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San Marcos area health providers prepare for vaccine

Tuesday, December 15, 2020

San Marcos area health providers are preparing for their health care workers to participate in internal distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine in the coming days and weeks. 

Hays County regional clinics and hospitals like CHRISTUS Santa Rosa Hospital - San Marcos, Austin Regional Clinic and Ascension Seton Hays in Kyle are all making preparations to receive the vaccine and follow a distribution plan.  According to the Texas Department of State Health Services, Ascension Seton Hays will receive 975 doses of the Pfizer vaccine during the first week allocation.  

“The use of vaccines has been a key part of combating and even eradicating certain diseases for generations, and we believe the COVID-19 vaccine is safe and effective,” said Thomas McKinney, MHA, FACHE, President CHRISTUS Santa Rosa Hospital - San Marcos. “Though there is still a way to go, this process is a positive step in the right direction for relief during this Pandemic.”

In an effort to streamline any potential logistical challenges, leaders at CHRISTUS Santa Rosa Hospital - San Marcos are actively working with sister hospitals in San Antonio to coordinate several distribution sites to ensure that its associates and medical staff are part of this important first phase of COVID vaccine distribution. 

It is estimated that its San Antonio hospital will likely receive the vaccine by the end of the week.

“We understand how critical it is for our front line health care workers to receive the vaccine as they continue their commitment to care for patients in San Marcos and surrounding communities,” said Micah Johnson, MHA, MSN, RN Chief Nursing Officer, CHRISTUS Santa Rosa Hospital - San Marcos. “Our leaders have been and will continue to include our region in planning efforts for this and future phases of COVID vaccine distribution.”

CHRISTUS Health has a well-established process in place for reviewing the safety and efficacy of new drugs that is being utilized to evaluate any COVID-19 vaccines that receive emergency use authorization  (EUA) by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

“Our COVID-19 Taskforce is evaluating and planning for the storage and distribution of a vaccine across our ministries, including at CHRISTUS ministries across South-Central Texas, while following the guidance of clinical experts and the frameworks distributed by the Catholic Health Association, Centers for Disease Control and State Health agencies,” said David Benner PharmD, MS, MHA, FACHE, Vice President, Clinical Ancillary Services for the Division of Clinical Excellence at CHRISTUS Health.

The COVID-19 vaccine will be available to all health care workers at CHRISTUS facilities in South-Central Texas, but is not mandatory. 

Similar to many vaccines, the COVID-19 vaccine will be given in two doses: an initial injection and then a booster shot, normally 21-28 days later (depending on the vaccine administered). Research from the pharmaceutical company and CHRISTUS Health’s COVID-19 Task Force indicates minor side effects similar to the flu shot, such as low-grade fever and redness or slight pain at the injection site are possible.

“CHRISTUS Health has a plan, and we are working through it to ensure that our facilities, Associates and medical staff are prepared to receive, store and distribute COVID-19 vaccines as soon as they become available,” said Sam Bagchi, M.D., Executive Vice President and Chief Clinical Officer, CHRISTUS Health. “We are confident in our ability to participate in the vaccine distribution and our ability to offer vaccination to all CHRISTUS health care workers who wish to receive it.”

Austin Regional Center Clinics are registered with the Texas DSHS to be vaccine providers and expect to receive doses of the Pfizer vaccine first.

“We expect to receive a very limited number of doses of COVID-19 vaccine for clinic first responders and frontline healthcare workers in late December or early next year, and have adequate ultra-cold-storage for the vaccine,” said Dr. Anas Daghestani, ARC CEO. “As we receive additional shipments throughout the year, we will expand vaccinations according to the Texas DSHS COVID-19 vaccination allocation and vaccination prioritization guidelines.”

It is anticipated that once the vaccine is available for residents, the U.S. government will cover the cost of the COVID-19 vaccine.

ARC continues to provide updates on their website at

Ascension Seton has also developed plans to provide the vaccine for frontline healthcare workers.

“At Ascension Seton, this team includes frontline emergency department staff who accept and treat patients, ICU doctors and nurses, certified nursing assistants, respiratory technicians, housekeeping and food services staff, all whose roles place them in the forefront of the battle against COVID,” said an Ascension Seton spokesperson. “We are taking extra steps to ensure these frontline staff have access to the vaccine, and we are working to eliminate social and economic barriers to ensure that they can receive the vaccine as a prioritized group.”

Ascension Seton anticipates that the remainder of its associates will be eligible for the vaccine in a phased approach as more doses become available and the distribution process progresses. 

The prioritization for vaccination will follow the Texas DSHS guidelines. Vaccination is one of the most effective strategies to protect ourselves and others from COVID-19, they said.

San Marcos Record

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