As of April, 2, the Texas Department of State Health Services administered around 12 million COVID-19 vaccine doses, which only equals 40% of the state population. As of April 3, Walker County has 10.75% of the population fully vaccinated, with 20.51% of the population having only one dose. The Walker County Office of Emergency Management plans to increase these percentages with more vaccination events.
“It took a while to get started receiving the vaccine and soon as we got it we partnered with Huntsville Family Medicine, Dr. Aiena,” Walker County Office of Emergency Management Coordinator Butch Davis said. ” And we partnered with Huntsville Memorial Hospital and we started setting up these clinics and getting it out as quickly as we could.”
Three vaccination options have been made available for Walker County, with Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines requiring two doses and Johnson & Johnson requiring only one. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine clinical trials showed a 66.3% effectiveness in preventing laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 illness, with Moderna coming in at 94.1% and Pfizer-BioNTech coming in at 95.0%.
The Johnson & Johnson and Moderna vaccine has become available for those 18 years and older in Walker County, while the Pfizer vaccine has become available for individuals 16 years and older.
The effectiveness numbers have raised concerns on getting the one-shot or the two-shot version of the vaccine. Dr. Lane Aiena, a physician at Huntsville Family Medicine, shared his thoughts on the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
“Now the benefit is you can get one shot and you’re finished four weeks after you get the vaccine,” Aiena said. “You’re looking at the 66% to 67% percent efficacy for total disease prevention, and 28 days. But it’s very, very good at preventing severe disease and so far, 100% effective at preventing death from COVID.”
On March 31, a batch of the Johnson & Johnson vaccines failed quality standards, due to an ingredient not approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The company has not released how many doses were lost and or if this will push back the timeline on vaccine shipments.
The New York Times created a list of outbreak spots in all states, which include the most outbreaks on Texas college campuses.
- Texas A&M University – 1st place
The campus experienced 4,354 cases, with 16.41% of Brazos county fully vaccinated against COVID-19 as of April 3.
- Texas Tech University – 2nd place
The campus experienced 3,367 cases, with 24.32% of Lubbock county fully vaccinated against COVID-19 as of April 3.
- The University of Texas at Austin – 3rd place
The campus experienced 3,325 cases, with 18.03% of Travis county fully vaccinated against COVID-19 as of April 3.
- Sam Houston State University – 11th place
The campuses experienced 1,227 cases, with 10.75% of Walker county fully vaccinated against COVID-19 as of April 3.
Walker County Office of Emergency Management, in collaboration with Huntsville Family Medicine and Huntsville Memorial Hospital, opened vaccination appointments for April 6 and 8, for anyone age 18 and above for the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. As of April 2, all appointments have been booked.
“The sooner we get everyone or most people in the county vaccinated, the sooner we can start getting back to ‘normal life’ and really see that light at the end of the tunnel get brighter and brighter,” Aiena said.