CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Local health leaders support the tiered system that state health leaders created to determine who gets the first doses of COVID-19 vaccines once they're approved and distributed.
Director of Public Health at the Corpus Christi-Nueces County Public Health District Annette Rodriguez agrees that doctors, nurses, and other people who work directly with COVID-19 patients should get top priority.
“I think the decision that (Texas Department of State Health Services Commissioner Dr. John Hellerstedt) made for the Phase One-A Tier One is right on point," Rodriguez said. "If I had to pick those individuals, I would have picked the same ones.”
Also on that top tier are people who work with vulnerable populations, like caretakers at nursing homes, and EMS workers who go out on emergency calls.
Not included on that top tier and the second tier that's more expansive are teachers and police officers, and that has some people crying foul.
“My sister is a teacher for CCISD, and I really disagree with that," Meredith McFall said. "Teachers definitely need to be included.
The state hasn't announced who will make up any tiers beyond one and two, but Rodriguez says a vaccine made by Pfizer could arrive for those top priority groups in less than two weeks.
Several other pharmaceutical companies are also working to get their vaccines approved and distributed which makes Rodriguez hopeful that teachers, police officers, and others will get their vaccines soon after the new year.
“I’m thinking probably by no later than mid-January," Rodriguez said. "But again, I’d like to see FDA approval for both Pfizer, Moderna, and any others that are coming behind there, because the more that get approved, the more vaccine that will be sent our way.”
Rodriguez says she doesn't know how many vaccine doses are coming to the Coastal Bend.
She believes 1.4 million are coming to Texas, but areas more heavily hit by COVID-19, like Laredo, El Paso, and Amarillo, will likely get more doses than Nueces County.
Still, she sees the upcoming arrival of the vaccines as a possible light at the end of a very long tunnel.
"We’re excited," Rodriguez said. "I think it definitely gives everybody hope. There’s hope that one day this pandemic will be behind us, and we all want to see that."