By Harris County Precinct 2 Commissioner Adrian Garcia
You may have noticed recently that there’s no longer a vaccine waitlist at vaccine mega-sites like Harris County’s at NRG Stadium. Now, at ReadyHarris.org you can pick the day and time that works best for you, and those who want a COVID vaccination don’t have to spend hours and stress waiting online for the very moment slots open. Most vaccination sites now are accepting walk-ins without previous registration and appointments! Just as Precinct 2 mobilized quickly for the first wave of vaccinations, now we’re quickly adjusting to reach and vaccinate people who might be less able to visit shot sites and are perhaps hesitant about getting the shots that will save lives.
Many Precinct 2 residents can’t get to mega-sites like NRG Stadium twice in a month for their shots. For readers of Northeast News, Highlands Star-Crosby Courier, Barbers Hill-Dayton Press, or North Channel Star, committing three or more hours on a workday to get to a vaccine site isn’t feasible. Worse yet, many others don’t have access to effective transportation and struggle with limited Metro routes, especially at the outer edges of our precinct.
For these reasons, I’ve tasked the Precinct 2 team to bring vaccines directly to the communities I serve. Under the management of our talented Director of Health Services, Chara Bowie, Precinct 2 has coordinated more than 15,000 shots in arms of people who previously couldn’t get them. In Aldine alone, a Precinct 2 partnership with UHP Health (operators of the SmartPod Access2Health) has supported more than 2,500 vaccine shots at North East Community Center, where we are doing regular vaccinations multiple days per week. In addition, our residents received more than 1,750 doses in Channel-area communities and close to 700 doses in Crosby and Barrett.
While reaching a wide variety of communities in areas near our Community Centers and Precinct 2 facilities, we’ve also partnered with the Longshoremen’s Union, Plumber’s Union, Teamsters and other labor organizations to vaccinate thousands of these essential workers. Like other frontline workers, our friends in labor have critical need for vaccination access to be healthy.
Even with these local vaccine events, challenges to get the shot remain for tens of thousands. Many of our seniors don’t drive, are mostly homebound or are residents in a senior living community. To address these issues, Precinct 2, along with Harris County Public Health, has begun taking shots to Senior Care Facilities in Precinct 2, as well as to the homes of seniors in our homebound meals program.
Now, as the first wave of vaccinations in Harris County slows and begins to build a second smaller wave, I’m using all of my knowledge of Precinct 2’s extremely diverse population to reach out and find all residents who want and need a COVID vaccination. An important part of this is to help build interest and understanding why each vaccination helps each and all of us stay healthy. We need to engage those hesitant about vaccinations and help them value a vaccination that saves their lives as well as the lives of their loved ones.
Since being elected, I’ve asked my team to understand all the unique characteristics of our communities and to really know the precinct’s residents. In this way we can bring vaccines directly to you, no matter where you live. While I’m proud of all Precinct 2 residents who are now vaccinated, we are accelerating our efforts to help more people get vaccinated, all to reach a level that’ll crush COVID in Precinct 2. If you haven’t gotten your vaccine yet, don’t wait. If you’re concerned and hesitant, take a close look at the ultimate benefits to you, your family and your friends. Please get your shots so we can all get back to doing the activities we love with the people we love.