TYLER, Texas — What once took a couple of hours now only takes 30-45 minutes, as appointments for first dose vaccines with NET Health at Harvey Hall are on the decline.
George Roberts, CEO of NET Health said since December the waiting list for vaccine appointments at Harvey Hall has gone from full to empty.
"We had a waitlist at one time that was over 58,000 names and we were able to work through that waiting list by mid-March," said Roberts.
Roberts said the decline only began about two weeks ago, and that there were many people at clinics in March when the shots first became available to everyone 16 and older.
It isn't only happening in East Texas though; health officials across the state are reporting no waiting lists for vaccines, and many including NET Health have opened up clinics to accept walk-in appointments.
"We're already started efforts to try to do more outreach efforts in area churches, businesses, neighborhoods, wherever people may be hesitant to get vaccinated or don't feel like they can get ready access to it," Roberts said.
However, Lisa Williams president of Black Nurses Rock Tyler said at the community clinics she's volunteered at, she's still seeing a steady stream of people coming to get a shot.
"That broke the transportation barrier, and once they were able to get it they went back to the neighborhoods and people came and received the shots as well," she said.
Williams said Smith County is on track with its vaccination efforts, but there's still more work to do and as a home healthcare nurse she's concerned about a vulnerable population's access to the vaccines.
"We have a great amount of homebound patients," said Williams. "I think if we can get to some houses where the people are homebound... I think that'd be something great in those rural areas."
Roberts said NET Health is working on a plan this week to help address the gap with rural East Texas as well as homebound seniors.
As of Tuesday, nearly 100,000 East Texans have been vaccinated by the two vaccine hubs in Smith County. According to the Department of State Health Services about 25% of the county's population is fully vaccinated.
Smith County's community spread levels are on the rise up about 3% from the week of April 4/2-4/8 at 10.31%.
Roberts said COVID daily cases are on an ebb and flow at this point in time for the pandemic. As of Monday, Smith County has 59 active cases.
NET Health is hosting first dose appointments at Harvey Hall Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday from 8:30 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. To learn more, click here.