Dec. 14 marks the one-year anniversary of the FDA’s authorization of COVID-19 vaccines for emergency use. For the first time since the pandemic began, the United States was able to have a proactive response to protecting people from the Corona virus.
“This is a day to reflect on the marvel that it is that a year after the emergence of this new virus that vaccines could be developed, tested and deployed that are remarkably effective and safe,” said Dr. Farley Verner, health authority for Waco-McLennan County Public Health District. “And now over the year that these vaccines have been in use it is likely that over 200,000 deaths and untold numbers of hospitalizations have been prevented in the United States alone.”
The local public health district received the first shipment of 200 doses of the Moderna vaccine Dec. 23, 2020, and began vaccinating first responders. Since that time, the health district has administered 64,006 doses of vaccine through mass vaccination clinics, drive-through clinics, mobile clinics, and its main clinic.
Currently, 51% of McLennan County residents ages 5 and up are fully vaccinated.
The health district offers the Johnson & Johnson, Moderna, and Pfizer vaccines Monday through Friday at the main clinic (225 W. Waco Dr.) and at mobile clinics throughout McLennan County. You can find the schedule at www.covidwaco.com/.
The Act Locally Waco blog publishes posts with a connection to these aspirations for Waco. If you are interested in writing for the Act Locally Waco Blog, please email the ALW team — [email protected].
The Waco-McLennan County Public Health District has partnered with area African American churches, the Waco NAACP, and VOICE to host a second “Shots for Souls” COVID-19 Vaccination Drive 1-4 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 14, at the Health District, 225 W. Waco Dr.
Participants can choose from the Pfizer, Moderna, or Johnson & Johnson vaccines. Adult vaccines, including boosters, and vaccines for children 5 years of age and older will be available. Lunch for the first 200 participants will be provided by the NAACP. Walk-ins are welcome and registration can be done on-line at covidwaco.com or at 254-750-5460.
“The holidays are fast approaching, and the health district is working with several organizations to get vaccines distributed just in time for the holidays,” said LaShonda Malrey-Horne, director of the health district. “The health district is collaborating with Waco NAACP, local Black churches, and VOICE Waco to offer vaccines to the East Waco community so families can enjoy the holiday season safely this year.”
Vaccination is the most effective way to slow the spread of disease and significantly decrease hospitalizations and fatalities due to COVID-19.
By Charles Williams
The Texas and U.S. economies are surging along with the confidence of U.S. consumers as COVID-19 vaccines flood the nation. But the persistence of the coronavirus makes the recovery fragile.
The pace of the U.S. economic recovery in 2021 hinges on the pace of COVID-19 vaccinations.
The general business activity index, which reflects the net share of Texas executives saying conditions improved or worsened, hit an all-time high in April for services companies. Manufacturers’ confidence spiked, too.
In the Texas services sector, indexes on general business activity and company outlook rose to their highest levels since the survey began in 2007. Among manufacturers, indexes for new orders and growth in orders climbed to their highest readings in the history of that survey, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas.
“All the stars are aligning to have a great recovery,” Luis Torres, research economist at the Texas Real Estate Research Center at Texas A&M University told The Dallas Morning News. “The economy is going gangbusters and the [Dallas Fed] forecast calls for recovering all the lost jobs [in Texas] by the end of the year.”
Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar recently issued a revised revenue estimate that gives lawmakers several billion more dollars to spend as they wrap up the next state budget. Hegar cited improved performance of the state economy as COVID-19 restrictions began to be lifted over the past two months and immunizations improved consumer confidence. In a letter to Gov. Greg Abbott, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, and Speaker Dade Phelan, Hegar said he is optimistic about economic growth because of the rollout of COVID-19 vaccinations in Texas and reopenings of businesses in the state and elsewhere in the U.S.
Nationally, the economy expanded rapidly in the first quarter at a torrid 6.4% annualized rate. Personal consumer spending rose at an equally impressive annualized rate of more than 10%.
Our local area is also participating in the recovery. McLennan County sales and county use tax was up 1.6% in April and 7.7% year-to-date. Waco specifically is up 2.6% year-to-date. Many Texas cities and counties are running deficits compared with last year’s figures.
Despite this, nearly a quarter of U.S. adults say they would still avoid shopping at local businesses or dining inside restaurants after being vaccinated, according to a new national survey by YouGov on behalf of Bankrate. But the economy can’t fully recover until consumers do what they do best in America: buy freely what they want or need.
The key to full return of the local economy is residents’ confidence: How vulnerable am I if I venture out to shop or return to the workplace? How contagious are my neighbors and friends?
Herd immunity — the rate at which enough people become immune to a disease to make its spread unlikely — may be an unattainable goal, experts say. However, the only sure answer is to vaccinate as many people as we can.
As of May 6, only 24% of McLennan County residents were fully vaccinated. Compare that with the Texas rate of 29% and the U.S. rate of 33%. A CDC assessment looking at hospitalizations in two U.S. hospital networks covering 24 hospitals in 14 states has found that fully vaccinated adults over the age of 65 are 94% less likely to be hospitalized with COVID-19 than unvaccinated adults in the same age group.
Encourage your friends, coworkers, and neighbors to get vaccinated. As more and more acquaintances become vaccinated, hesitancy and resistance will continue to melt. That leads to more consumer confidence and fuels the local economic recovery.
A free online MyBSWHealth account is the easiest way for Waco area residents to schedule vaccine appointments at Baylor Scott & White Health. There are also walk-in appointments available.
Right now it is time to roll up our sleeves and engage our communities to increase vaccination. The health of our community and our economy depend on it.
Charles Williams joined Baylor Scott & White in January 2021 as president of BSW – Hillcrest in Waco. Prior to that, he served as president and CEO of Regional Medical Center of Orangeburg & Calhoun Counties in Orangeburg, S.C. Charles is no stranger to Texas, having spent most of his life in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex.
The Act Locally Waco blog publishes posts with a connection to these aspirations for Waco. If you are interested in writing for the Act Locally Waco Blog, please email Ferrell Foster at [email protected].