Health & Science

Harris County Closing NRG Vaccine Site, Spending $30 Million For More Nurses As COVID-19 Continues To Surge

The NRG Park vaccination site, which was opened in February and initially operated by FEMA, will be shutdown

NRG Stadium-Astrodome
Lucio Vasquez / Houston Public Media

Harris County will close its vaccine mega site at NRG Park, County Judge Lina Hidalgo announced on Tuesday.

The county will also spend $30 million to bring hundreds of additional nurses into the Houston area to help the region’s strained hospital system, Hidalgo said.

The county will work with the Southeast Texas Regional Advisory Council, or SETRAC, to hire the nurses through staffing agencies outside of Harris County.

“We’re not just taking nurses from one hospital and putting them in another hospital,” she said. “The request will support hospitals around the county.”

Hidalgo added that the nurses could arrive within 72 hours after county commissioners unanimously passed the request during Tuesday’s Commissioners Court meeting.

The NRG Park vaccination site, which was opened in February and initially operated by FEMA, will be shut down on Wednesday. The site originally aimed to vaccinate 6,000-7,000 people per day, but that number steadily fell as time went on.

The site will now be replaced by two new Harris County Public Health sites, one of which opened Tuesday at Sheldon ISD’s Panther Stadium in Northeast Houston. The other site will open on Thursday at Dick Graves Park in Southeast Houston. Both will operate from 9 a.m.-7 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday.

The Dick Graves Park site will be set up to administer 2,500 vaccines per day — an increase compared to what was provided at NRG Park, according to Hidalgo.

Last week, Hidalgo announced a $100 incentive for those who receive their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine through Harris County Public Health before Aug. 30.

Since the announcement, Hidalgo said the county has seen an immediate increase in vaccinations, with more than 2,700 people receiving their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine on Saturday — a 529% increase compared to an average of 431 administrations per day before the incentive was launched.

"We’re in a tough time. We continue to see record numbers of hospitalizations across our region,” she said. “But we also have a light to get us out of this, and that is the increased participation in vaccination sites. I hope this continues.”