Mass COVID-19 vaccinations begin in McLennan County

The Waco-McLennan County Public Health District opened the county’s mass vaccination hub Tuesday morning at the Waco Convention Center with the goal of administering 500 doses of the Moderna vaccine by day’s end.

“It was easy,” Dist. 1 Waco City Councilwoman Andrea Barefield said.

“This is the only way that we can move forward,” she said.

“We have got to take this seriously.”

The county’s COVID-19 death toll rose to 315 Tuesday, according to local data, and almost 21,300 residents have been diagnosed with the virus.

“Every time I take a look at the fatalities in December, it hurts my heart,” Barefield said.

“And too many I knew personally, and so if this is a way for us to get off of that button and get onto a season of healing then whatever we need to do, we’re going to do it.”

The health district received an initial shipment of 1,500 doses of the vaccine to administer to residents covered by Phase 1A of the state’s vaccination distribution plan, including frontline healthcare workers and residents and employees of long-term care facilities and those covered by Phase 1B of the plan including residents 65 and older and residents 16 and older with medical conditions that puts them at risk of severe COVID-19 illness.

Vaccination is by appointment only, and appointments have been made for all 1,500 doses.

Susana Limbers of Waco was among the hundreds who streamed into the convention center Tuesday.

“I was a little bit apprehensive because I have an immune disorder, but my doctor encouraged me to do it,” Limbers said.

“I am really grateful that I was able to do it without any hassle,” she said.

Byron Limbers of Waco was also vaccinated Tuesday.

“We have been kind of locked down for the last year and ready to get out of the house, so we are very glad to have it and we’re anxious to get the second dose,” he said.

Residents may sign up for email updates on future vaccination clinics from the Waco-McLennan County Health District or may text the word “vaccine” to 22828 and provide email addresses to receive notification of the next shipment of vaccine.

The City of Waco Tuesday activated its Public Information Hotline to allow residents who don’t have access to email or the internet to get the latest updates on testing sites, vaccine availability and other information related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The number is (254) 750-5606.

—KWTX