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Healthcare workers take photos of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine before administering it Dec. 23 to about 80 employees of CHI St. Luke’s Health Brazosport in Lake Jackson.

ANGLETON — County health clinics in Angleton, Alvin, Lake Jackson and Pearland will administer more than 2,000 vaccines over the next several weeks to patients who quickly scooped up the available supply.

County officials announced Thursday afternoon residents under Phase 1A and 1B could book appointments to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. With 2,300 shots available to public, appointments were gone swiftly.

“They booked up in less than half an hour from the time we posted on our website, which was before social media,” Brazoria County Judge Matt Sebesta said. “We got 2,300 doses this week. Three hundred were second doses and 2,000 were first-time doses, and between Tuesday and today we booked the 2,000 appointments.”

Inoculations are being assisted by nurses from Community Health Network, Sweeny Community Hospital and a retired nurse to speed up the process, Sebesta said.

He is unsure if additional providers outside of county control had received new allotments or when the next shipment could arrive.

“We know there is a shortage of vaccines,” he said. “The federal government decides when the states get them and then they decide which jurisdictions get those vaccinations. We are continuing to ask for more doses. We are just hoping for a pipeline of vaccines so the people who have the desire to get it can get it. It’s a hot, rare commodity.”

Vaccine hubs will also be an option if the county receives enough doses to manage a mass vaccination, Sebesta said.

Officials also revealed another 329 residents testing positive for COVID-19 — the highest report since Jan. 14.

Dr. Anthony Rogers, a UTMB Health-affiliated family practitioners, was hopeful before Thursday’s jump that the lower trend of cases was to continue. The county had not topped 200 cases in the last five daily updates.

“I’ve been noticing the same thing and I’m hoping the curve is holding on,” Rogers said. “The holiday spike we expected is getting behind us and maybe a little bit of effect of the vaccine starting to go out. I think the holiday spike is the most significant reason as respiratory viruses tend to worsen in the winter times and people traveling for the holidays.”

Rogers also factored in possible community immunity as the virus spreads to more residents.

“Any large number of cases, people getting a second case is unlikely,” he said. “I’m encouraged that our death rate is under 1 percent. These are all better than early in the year but still a lot of people.”

Brazoria County COVID-19 death rate sits at 0.96 percent, according to county data.

The UTMB Health Angleton-Danbury Campus has seen a steady and full intake of COVID patients, Rogers said.

“It’s not critical but it’s we should keep watch and it’s still tough,” Rogers said. “My hope is mid-February will see this curve slide down and we have more vaccines in the area and by mid-March see a significant improvement from where we are.”

Pearland led Thursday’s report with 64 residents testing positive, followed by 30 from Alvin, 19 each from Freeport and Lake Jackson, 16 from Manvel and 11 from Lake Jackson. Eight from West Columbia, six each from Clute and Iowa Colony, five each from Brookside Village and Brazoria, three from Jones Creek, two each from Sweeny, Bonney and Richwood and one each from Danbury, Bailey’s Prairie, Damon and Surfside also came back with a positive result.

Residents in their 40s were the most affected age group, accounting for 44 cases, followed by 36 in their 20s, 34 in their 30s, 25 adolescents, 20 in their 50s, 15 children younger than 10, 14 in their 60s and 12 in their 70s. Four residents older than 80 also reported positive.

Lake Jackson men in their 70s and 80s, an Angleton man in his 80s, an Alvin woman in her 50s and an Alvin man in his 70s were added to the death toll from COVID-19 related causes, Public Information Officer Sharon Trower said.

Of Thursday’s new cases, three were residents of Laurel Court nursing home in Alvin, five were from tests administered more than two weeks ago and 125 were considered probable.

Probable cases are people who are exhibiting COVID symptoms and are linked to others who have tested positive for the novel coronavirus, usually by living in the same household, as well as those for which antigen tests have provided “presumptive laboratory evidence” of infection, no matter whether the person qualifies as a close contact.

County officials also announced 183 residents had recovered, Trower said in a statement.

With the addition of Thursday’s numbers, Brazoria County reached 25,420 reported cases of COVID-19, of which 4,332 are active and 1,245 are probable. There have been 19,331 recoveries and 245 fatalities.

For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia and death. The vast majority of people recover.

Nick Irene is a reporter for The Facts. Contact him at 979-237-0149.

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