ARLINGTON, Texas – Hundreds of people who make up the most vulnerable population in Tarrant County wasted no time Wednesday getting a COVID-19 vaccine.
Over the past couple of weeks, the vaccines have been distributed to frontline health care workers in North Texas, along with some first responders.
Now with Phase 1B, the pool of eligibility in Texas has expanded to people 65 years or older and those at least 16 years old who have a medical condition that puts them at greater risk of serious illness from COVID-19.
Some of those underlying health conditions include cancer, serious heart conditions, kidney disease, Type 2 diabetes, obesity, sickle cell disease, solid-organ transplantation, and pregnancy.
Rain and cold weather did not stop people like Jerry Frazier and Claudine Orsetti from waiting in line at the Esports Stadium and Expo Center in Arlington.
“I am smiling under this mask. You can’t see it,” Frazier said.
“When we heard the news and see people dying it’s frightening and we want the protection for ourselves,” Orsetti said.
But the supply remains extremely limited. Texas was promised 1.4 million doses for December and as the month closes less than 50% of that stock has been registered as being received.
In Tarrant County, there are multiple ways to get the vaccine.
The Arlington Fire Department is giving shots at the Esports Stadium. Until they run out of their 3,000 Moderna doses, it will be first-come-first-serve for those who are eligible.
“It is a terrible virus. I understand the excitement and happiness of our senior citizens,” said Chief Don Crowson with Arlington FD.
Tarrant County has vaccination registrations on its website. From there, people are assigned a clinic. But it may take a day or more to get an appointment time.
JPS Health Network is also distributing the COVID-19 vaccine to those who are eligible but only to its current patients by appointment.
“We are all in this together. Get it and we can get this over with. Tray and get this under control,” said Garry Anderson, a North Texas senior citizen who received the shot Wednesday.
“We don’t have any second thought. We want the vaccine and we are here,” Orsetti added.
They were excited to get the vaccine but aware that it is not the end of the pandemic.
“I am still going to wash my hands. I am still going to wear my mask and watch my distance,” Frazier said.
“It’ll still give me a layer of protection, not total. I will still wear a mask and social distance to the best of my ability,” said Carol Anderson.