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story.lead_photo.caption Meghan Neely and Lindsay Price, both with Christus St. Michael Health System's Human Resources Department, prepare the registration desks for the first round of COVID-19 vaccinations to be given at the hospital's vaccine hub. Photo by Kelsi Brinkmeyer / Texarkana Gazette.

TEXARKANA, Texas — CHRISTUS St. Michael Health System is ready to administer 2,000 doses of coronavirus vaccine over the weekend, at a rate of 120 per hour.

Preparations to scale up vaccination operations at St. Michael began more than two weeks ago, as the hospital and local partners — including the city, Bowie County, Texarkana College and Texas A&M University-Texarkana — lobbied state health agencies for Texarkana to become a designated vaccination hub, a CHRISTUS spokesperson said Friday. That designation came Monday, and along with it an allocation of 2,000 doses of the coronavirus vaccine developed by pharmaceutical company Moderna.

Through an online scheduling application, vaccine-seekers quickly snapped up appointments to be inoculated at St. Michael on Saturday and Sunday, 1,000 each day. Vaccinations are by appointment only, and walk-ins will not get a shot.

A visit to a vaccination hub previously established at CHRISTUS Good Shepherd Medical Center in Longview, Texas, helped St. Michael staff prepare for the logistical details of such a large-scale medical operation.

Vaccinations will take place in St. Michael's outpatient rehabilitation hospital and former fitness center. There will be 16 vaccination stations set up, each with two clinicians, allowing the capacity to administer 32 vaccinations at once. Those giving shots will include doctors and nurses, volunteer local nursing students, firefighters, paramedics and others, all trained and licensed to give injections.

Christus St. Michael Health System offiicials ask that those with appointments to receive the Covid-19 vaccine at the hospital's new vaccine hub wait in their car until their appointment time and then enter the building at the Outpatient Rehabilitation Center entrance under the large purple awning pictured here.
Photo by Kelsi Brinkmeyer/Texarkana Gazette.

To help the operation run smoothly, those with appointments are asked to follow these directions:

Wear a face mask and loose clothing to allow easy access to the arm in which you will receive your injection.

Enter the St. Michael campus at the intersection of Cowhorn Creek Road and St. Michael Loop. Signs and people directing traffic will help drivers find their ways.

Arrive no sooner than 15 minutes before your appointment time. You will be directed to a parking spot and asked to stay in your vehicle until five minutes before your appointment.

Only those being vaccinated and, if needed, one person to assist each will be allowed into the vaccination site.

If you are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms such as fever or shortness of breath, if you have tested positive for coronavirus within the previous 10 days or if you have received any vaccination, including a flu shot, within the previous 14 days, stay home and reschedule your appointment.

Another 2,000 vaccine doses will be available to St. Michael next week, and a similar operation will take place there Feb. 20 and 21. Appointments will be available beginning at 12:30 p.m. Monday through the CHRISTUS system website, vaccinate.christushealth.org.

Appointments will be granted only to those who qualify to be vaccinated under Phase 1B of Texas' distribution plan. Phase 1B includes people age 65 or older and anyone 16 or older who has a chronic medical condition that increases risk for severe illness from COVID-19.

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