As vaccines against the novel coronavirus become more of a reality for Taylor residents, local officials had a chance recently to hear more about the new medicines and offer their own take on them.
On Jan. 28, the Williamson County and Cities Health District (WCCHD) gave an update to the Taylor City Council on various topics regarding the COVID-19 pandemic. Discussion and questions included vaccine effectiveness, distribution and progress thus far.
“We’re excited about the vaccines. We’re also very frustrated like the rest of you are about the vaccines and how they’re coming out,” said Dr. Lori Palazzo, WCCHD medical director and health authority. “We understand that the people out there are really trying hard to get their loved ones vaccinated, whether that’s a loved one in a long-term care facility, a loved one at home or a loved one who has to get out and work with the public everyday.”
She says the WCCHD is working with state agencies on a daily basis to try to bring vaccines into Williamson County and distributed.
“Our goal is to get them out to those people delegated as (phases) 1A and then 1B,” said Palazzo, “and then hopefully, God willing, we get enough to open it up to the entire population.”
Derrick L. Neal, WCCHD executive director, asked Taylor officials to begin thinking of places where vaccines could be distributed.
“This is one of our designated health equity zones per our Community Health Improvement Plan,” said Neal, “so we want to make sure that we’re giving you the heads up.”
Mayor Brandt Rydell expressed concern about new variants of COVID-19 that have been discovered. Palazzo said there have been no new variants found in Williamson County thus far.
“(Pharmaceutical companies) Pfizer and Moderna are both claiming that they have (vaccines with) some protection against these variants,” said Palazzo, “and from what I’m reading, it’s more that (the variants are) increased transmissible and maybe more deadly, but they’re not sure on that ‘more deadly.’”
She reminded the council that threat assessments of COVID-19 at the start of the pandemic would adjust over time, which could occur with the virus’ new variants.
“The vaccines hopefully being effective against them — you know, it’s a messenger RNA based on that spike protein, so it makes sense that if your body’s immune system is attacking that spike protein, you’re going to have some form of protection even against the variant,” said Palazzo. “It might not be the 95% they’re guaranteeing against the original COVID virus, but I truly believe you’re going to have some protection. … We have to wait and see.”
Councilmember Dwayne Ariola said he knew people including family members who have gotten a vaccine. However, he indicated he would not be receiving one.
“More power to them. I’m in the pharmaceutical world, and I will not be getting the shot,” said Ariola, “but that’s my personal choice.”
Ariola told Neal he would be open to an ongoing conversation on the vaccine.
Councilmember Robert Garcia displayed his card showing that he had been vaccinated. Meanwhile, Councilmember Mitch Drummond said his healthcare provider, Lone Star Circle of Care, would call to let him know when vaccines were available to him. Palazzo said that Lone Star is its own provider registered with the state and do not get supplied from the health district.
“I know a lot of our citizens use Lone Star Circle of Care,” said Drummond. “I’ve been waiting for Lone Star to give me a call, so I assume that’s coming down the road somewhere.”
Either way, the health district emphasizes that everyone should continue to follow guidelines to lower case numbers.
“Yes, get the vaccine,” said Palazzo, “but we cannot stop wearing a mask and being careful about the social distancing.”
For more discussion on the vaccine and other local COVID-19 subjects, visit https://taylortx.swagit.com/play/01282021-879/3.