How to access a COVID-19 booster shot in North Texas
Now that COVID-19 booster shots have been approved by the Centers for Disease Control and the Food and Drug Administration for people in high-risk groups, here's how the rollout will work in North Texas.
This includes people who are over 65, people living in residential treatment or care facilities, people with underlying medical conditions like diabetes and cancer, and anyone who works in high-risk settings like first responders or agriculture workers.
They are eligible if it’s been six months or more since their completed vaccine dose of Pfizer or Moderna. The CDC recommends booster shots for people who got the Johnson & Johnson shot two or more months ago, regardless of risk factors.
Denton, Dallas Counties see booster shots as one part of improving COVID-19 public health outcomes
Matt Richardson, director of public health for Denton County, said he’s keeping up-to-date with the FDA and CDC changes to direct vaccinations at the county-level. According to the department, the organization has administered close to 17,000 booster shots, which includes people who are immunocompromised.
“Most people are excited for the opportunity for a booster,” Richardson said. “The more people that have that armor of protection, the fewer cases we’re gonna have, the fewer deaths, and the more we can get back to normal.”
He said one of the struggles with the department is balancing vaccinating new people with offering booster shots to those already protected against the virus. He frequently gets asked how the department is going to increase first-time vaccinations, which are hovering at less than 100 appointments a week at public health sites.
“It’s going to require that individual conversation,” Richardson said. “As a department, it’s hard to have 900,000 individual conversations in Denton County.”
Richardson said the health department is partnering with local faith leaders and community groups to share information, but he encourages people who have gotten vaccinated to share their experience.
Dallas County health department spokesman Christian Grisales said they’re taking a similar approach in reaching people who have been hesitant about getting vaccinated.
He and others from Dallas County Health and Human Services have gone door-to-door to convince people to visit pop-up community vaccination clinics in their neighborhoods. He said they also succeeded in getting nearly 2,000 people vaccinated at the State Fair of Texas.
North Texas counties prepare to vaccinate kids under 12
In addition, the FDA recently recommended the approval of the Pfizer vaccine for children between 5 and 11-years-old. The agency typically follows this recommendation, but a decision will be made in the next couple days. Richardson with Denton County said they’ve been preparing for these vaccinations since May, when vaccinations for 12-19 year-olds began. Richardson said the county is setting up in-person clinics, instead of drive-through locations, for younger children.
“Kids certainly are afraid of shots,” Richardson said. “We have to put them at ease, put parents at ease. We think a controlled environment [in an indoor clinic setting] will be more helpful.”
Grisales said the department is working with pharmacies, hospitals and schools to coordinate vaccine access for younger children.
“We’re going to be able to protect our little ones, and that’s very important,” Grisales said. “Now the question remains for children under 5, what can parents do? Parents should be vaccinated because those newborns and babies up to 5 are not going to get that vaccine. We want everyone to be protected.”
How to access COVID-19 vaccine appointments in North Texas
The federal vaccine location database is one way to find vaccine appointments, along with calling 1-800-232-0233.
Across North Texas, residents in Tarrant County can make appointments for the vaccine and booster shots at the Wilkerson-Greines Arena; the public health clinics in Watauga, Fort Worth, Lake Worth, and Arlington; and at college campuses across the county. Tarrant County has its own vaccine locator database.
Dallas County Health and Human Services is offering Pfizer vaccines, including boosters at clinics across the city, plus in Farmers Branch and Irving. Vaccines are appointment-only, Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. People can sign up online or by calling 972-692-2780.
Denton County is scheduling people for vaccine appointments through the county’s website, including booster shot appointments, or by calling 940-349-2585.
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