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Newswest 9 | Midland, Texas | newswest9.com

First health care workers in Austin receive coronavirus vaccine Tuesday

The initial doses of Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccines arrived in Austin on Monday.

AUSTIN, Texas — The first Central Texas medical facility received its first round of coronavirus vaccines on Monday, Dec. 14.

The University of Texas Dell Medical School received 2,925 Pfizer doses around 9:30 a.m. The first vaccine doses have been administered at the school as of Tuesday at around 8 a.m. 

KVUE's Bryce Newberry spoke to one of the first health care workers to receive the vaccine. Stephanie Vasquez, a PACU nurse at UT Health Austin's ambulatory surgery center, said she wanted to be one of the first in line for the vaccine because she said it's about serving her community.

A spokesperson for the school said those doses are the first of 300 expected to be given to health care workers starting Tuesday.

Dell Medical School is one of four facilities statewide to receive the first shipment of vaccines. Exactly 19 other facilities are scheduled to receive shipments on Tuesday. And by the end of the week, more than 220,000 of Pfizer’s doses should be in 110 hospitals across 34 Texas counties.

RELATED: Texas expected to receive over 220,000 doses of Pfizer vaccine in first week

UT Health Austin, which is the clinical practice of Dell Medical School, is handling vaccine administration and storage for approximately 3,000 UT healthcare workers.

Dr. Amy Young, the chief clinical officer for UT Health Austin, said it's a day they have been waiting for.

"Today is a very exciting day," Dr. Young said.

Frontline workers, like Dr. Young, have commonly worked prolonged hours.

'We are working very hard. I myself spent 24 hours in the hospital this weekend. It's, I would say, it's been grueling, not only in the quantity of work that we do, but the extended time period for which we've worked in this way, in this fashion. And also, you know, as providers, we like to have close relationships with our patients. And so it's been very hard limiting those relationships between the mask and the lack of visitors around patients in the hospital," Dr. Young said. 

Those in the medical profession describe this day as a watershed moment but know there is a long way to go.

"So it's very exciting that, you know, slowly but surely we still have to mask. We still have to social distance. We still have to wash our hands. But slowly but surely, I think this is the first step towards the future and returning to some normalcy both in the health care environment, but eventually for of our country and our population," said Dr. Young.

Dr. Young said the vaccination process will take 10 days.

Once the FDA gives emergency authorization to Moderna's vaccine, Chris Van Deusen with the Texas Department of State Health Services said more doses will be available.

"Good news with the Moderna vaccine, though, is it ships in batches of 100 or more doses. And so that really is going to give us a lot more flexibility as far as getting that vaccine out to different parts of the states," he said.

Travis County hospitals are expected to receive 13,650 initial doses of the vaccine, according to Austin Public Health. Eight hospitals in Travis County, two in Williamson County, and one in Hays County were selected for the initial distribution for a total of 16,575 initial doses in Central Texas.

RELATED: Benchmark Research needs thousands of participants to join new and existing COVID-19 vaccine clinical trials

Here's a breakdown of which facilities and counties in Central Texas are receiving the first doses in the first week:

Travis County

  • Seton Medical Center – 2,925 doses
  • Dell Children's Medical Center of Central Texas – 1,950 doses
  • South Austin Medical Center – 975 doses
  • Dell Seton Medical Center – 1,950 doses
  • UT Health Austin (Dell Medical School) – 2,925 doses
  • Austin State Hospital – 975 doses
  • North Austin Medical Center – 975 doses
  • St. David's Medical Center – 975 doses

Williamson County

  • Round Rock Medical Center – 975 doses
  • Baylor Scott and White Health Medical Center Round Rock – 975 doses

Hays County

Seton Medical Center Hays – 975 doses

To see how the first week's shipment of vaccines is being allocated across Texas, go to the Department of State Health Services website.

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