There have been a few hiccups along the way, but Texas Emergency Hospital’s COVID-19 vaccination clinic is seeing dozens of patients a day when vaccine shipments are available. The biggest challenge has come from the hospital’s hotline with some people reporting they have called hundreds of times per day with no response.
“We are asking people to please be patient. Continue trying to call. You will get through eventually. We can only handle so many people calling in at the same time,” said TEH’s Chief Operating Officer Patti Foster. “We are getting in new shipments and will continue to get them in. We just don’t know if that will be weekly or bi-weekly and how many vaccines we will receive.”
Foster stressed the importance of people adhering to the State’s distribution phases for the vaccine, which is limited currently to persons in Phases 1A and 1B. Phase 1A is for front-line healthcare workers and residents at long-term care facilities. This phase also includes last responders, such as funeral home workers, school nurses, EMS and first responders. Phase 1B is for persons 65 and older, or 16 or older with at least one chronic medical condition, which includes pregnancy.
“We are telling everyone to please stay in that 1A to 1B area right now. If you don’t need the vaccine right now, don’t take it,” she said.
With the strict time frames required for the second shot of Pfizer vaccine, which is necessary to achieve top immunity, Foster said it is imperative that people taking the first vaccination be available in 21 days for the second round.
“If you cannot commit to coming back on that 21st day, we are going to tell you to not get the vaccine at this time. You must commit to that day. If you are going to be out of town or having a surgical procedure, don’t commit to getting the shot. We have the Pfizer vaccine and it will not last without the second shot, and it has to be administered within a certain time frame,” Foster said.
Foster said that the response so far from those coming for vaccinations has been gratitude.
“We have experienced tears of joy and people bringing us doughnuts and cookies. No one has been rude or anything,” she said.
As for the long process of actually reaching someone on the hotline desk, Foster asked for patience and offered some advice.
“When you do finally get someone on the phone, give them the phone number you are calling from just in case your call drops. That way they can call you back and help you set up an appointment,” she said.
Two patients recently receiving the vaccinations at the hospital had glowing praise for Texas Emergency Hospital even though they admit they had a challenging time of getting their calls to the hotline answered.
“I heard about the clinic through friends. I had trouble getting through. The first day I called for about three straight hours. I was dialing the phone over and over again until I finally got through. Once you get connected, it’s easy-peasy,” said Shirley Williams of Humble. “It was very easy and uneventful once I showed up for my appointment. They checked my temperature and paperwork. Then I got my shot and waited around until they were sure I wasn’t going to have an adverse reaction.”
Williams is looking forward to having some peace of mind after the second shot.
“My neighbor and one of my really good friends have come down with COVID-19. My friend was really suffering but it appears she is on the road to recovery. I am ready for life to get back to normal,” she said.
Michelle Picard of Cleveland said getting the vaccination was a “no-brainer.”
“Why not get the vaccine and get ahead of all of this? I have been talking to my neighbors and friends, and no one seems to want it. We get vaccines as children to prevent other illnesses, so I don’t understand their reservations about it,” Picard said.
As Texas Emergency Hospital is a COVID-19 vaccination hub for the Texas Department of State Health Services, vaccine shipments will continue. The hospital is keeping its hotline open only when vaccines are available. To schedule an appointment for the Pfizer vaccination, please call 281-806-7370 or 281-806-7380.
If you get an appointment, you will be required to bring along completed paperwork. This paperwork will not be provided on site, so it must be printed and filled out prior to arriving at the hospital. To download the documents, go online to https://www.emergencyhospitals.care/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/Immunization-Registry-CDC-Prevaccination-Checklist.pdf.