Health & Science

Harris County Has Administered More Than 1 Million COVID-19 Vaccine Doses

“Harris County has reason to be proud, and hopeful of where we’re headed with our efforts to vaccinate folks,” said Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo. 

Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo and Congresswoman Lizzie Fletcher were among the officials to unveil FEMA’s vaccine supersite at NRG Park on Feb. 22, 2021.

Harris County has administered more than one million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, and just over 12% of the county's population is now fully vaccinated, County Judge Lina Hidalgo said Thursday.

Roughly 750,000 people have passed through the county’s vaccine waitlist, half of which come from zip codes targeted by Harris County Public Health. The county has placed heavy emphasis on vaccinating residents in zip codes deemed most vulnerable, based on the CDC's social vulnerability index.

"Harris County has reason to be proud, and hopeful of where we're headed with our efforts to vaccinate folks," Hidalgo said.

According to data from Harris County Public Health and the Texas Immunization Registry, 31.1% of people administered with a least one dose by HCPH have been Hispanic or Latino residents, compared to 19.9% by other providers. More than 43% of Harris County's population is composed of Hispanic or Latino residents.

Meanwhile, 17.5% of people administered with at least one dose from HCPH, have identified as Black or African American, compared to 9.8% by other providers. Nearly 19% of Harris County's residents identify as Black or African American.

"We have a ways to go, particularly when it comes to the Hispanic population," Hidalgo said. "But the work that we're doing is paying off and we're seeing the big difference between what we've been able to achieve in Harris County Public Health, and what other providers combined are achieving."

Hidalgo called on other providers, like hospitals and pharmacies, to take a more proactive approach with prioritizing vaccinations.

"Every organization that administers vaccines have a moral responsibility to make sure they're working to provide access through efficiency, equity, and fairness," Hidalgo said.

To do this, Hidalgo suggested a larger emphasis on outreach to vulnerable communities, and asked providers to not ask for insurance information or citizenship documentation.

The county judge also recommended that all providers in the county have an appointment registration option like a phone number for people that don't have internet access, or aren't tech savvy.

The county has taken other proactive steps to reach vulnerable communities, like going door to door, showing people how to sign up and get vaccinated.

The Houston Health Department says as supply has increased, they have taken similar steps.

"There are zip codes and communities where we know we will have to do more intensive outreach to ensure that access and equity issues are addressed," said Dr. Stephen Williams, Houston Health Department director. "Issues like transportation, language, and other barriers certainly need to be overcame to make sure everyone has access to the vaccine."

The Houston Health Department listed vaccine demographic numbers similar to Harris County Public Health. Out of more than 850,000 doses administered by the city, 23% of recipients have been Hispanic, and 12% have been black, an HHD spokesperson said.

More than 19% of vaccine recipients from the Houston Health Department were classified as "Race Status Unknown."

With supply increasing, and vaccine eligibility expanding to all adults beginning next Monday, Williams said they will target vulnerable communities even more.

"What this will do is allow us to maybe shift our focus from these megasites, which hopefully will be run by our affiliates in the future, to a more focused approach to communities that are vulnerable to COVID," Williams said.

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