WILLIAMSON COUNTY, Texas (KXAN) — As the state of Texas begins receiving its 333,650 COVID-19 vaccine doses this week, many smaller counties in Central Texas are figuring out operations for their own hubs.
In Williamson County, a main vaccine hub with doses provided by Family Emergency Rooms in Cedar Park could be ready this week. Commissioners will meet on Tuesday to discuss and potentially approve a plan for the clinic to become the county’s vaccine provider.
According to the county, if that contract is signed, the county’s vaccine hub plan will be activated. This includes letting the public know where and how vaccines will be available.
“I know that you are tired and weary,” County Judge Bill Gravell spoke to Williamson County residents. “But you need to know that your county is moving at lightning speed.”
The Texas Department of State Health Services has granted 6,000 vaccine doses to Family Emergency Rooms this week. Those doses were requested by Williamson County, the county said.
As of Monday, Family Emergency Rooms is still awaiting delivery of those 6,000 doses, which may also hinder the timeline for the hub’s operations.
“When I got the notice that we were getting the 6,000 vaccines, I cried,” Judge Gravell said. “I feel like we are a football team. We have a game plan, we have players, we have folks anxious to work hard and save lives. We’re just missing one thing, the ball. And the ball is the vaccine.”
On Tuesday, Williamson County announced an agreement with Family Hospital Systems to vaccine first responders and county employees in Phase 1A and 1B.
The county says FHS had planned to use the Kelly Reeves Complex as a drive-thru vaccination site, but appointments had to be canceled as the 6,000 doses have not yet arrived from the state.
State health officials confirmed there were some delays getting the vaccine to providers in Travis and Williamson County, however, it did not affect shipments to Family Hospital Systems. A spokesperson for DSHS said the shipments were always scheduled to arrive on Tuesday. Williamson County officials said they were booking appointments proactively.
Jen Stratton, director of communications for Family Hospital Systems, apologized for the confusion.
“We deeply regret any inconvenience to our community, but unfortunately sometimes these things do happen. It is up to us to be as flexible as we can be to ensure a seamless transition and process,” Stratton said.
Williamson County says patients who had appointments on Monday will soon receive an email to reschedule. Family Hospital Systems is also working on contingency plans in the event of inclement weather disrupting scheduled vaccinations.
“As of right now, we don’t see why we won’t be able to vaccinate later this week,” Stratton said.
County Commissioner Valerie Covey said earlier this month officials believe Williamson County has 120,000 residents who would qualify to receive the vaccine as a part of the Phase 1B. Gravell said the doses the county receives will not be exclusively for Williamson County residents, but will be distributed to as many people as possible.