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Collin County Opens Vaccine Mega Centers

For weeks, Collin County officials have been discussing what their agencies would do when the COVID-19 vaccines become more widely available.

For weeks, Collin County officials have been discussing what their agencies would do when the COVID-19 vaccines become more widely available. As local governments across the state scrambled to find more doses, all officials here in Collin County said they could do was build distribution plans and wait.

That changed last week.

The Texas Department of State Health Services delivered 2,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine to Collin County Health Care Services (CCHCS), the McKinney Fire Department, and the city of Allen. Baylor Scott & White Health (BSWH) received 975 doses of the Pfizer vaccine from the state.

Those shipments finally put into motion plans to use local high school football stadiums as vaccine "mega centers." But as the rollout of the vaccine begins in Collin County, demand still far outstrips our vaccine supply. Everyone wants to know how to get one of the precious doses.

Collin County Waitlist Vaccine Centers

Both CCHCS and McKinney will vaccinate people who have signed up on the county's COVID-19 vaccine website, which as of Thursday, was around 150,000 people long. They've received about 4,000 doses of the vaccine this week to distribute.

But McKinney officials emphasized in a Tuesday city council meeting that fire, police, and other city officials will handle its rollout. For the county's part, commissioners selected Curative Medical Associates to coordinate the county's mega center.

McKinney began using the McKinney ISD football stadium as a mega center on Thursday.

On Thursday, Plano officials followed the lead of the county health department. On social media, the city said the Plano ISD's John Clark Stadium will be used as CCHCS's mega center and the site will be staffed by contractors with Curative.

Next week, CCHCS plans to relocate its vaccine hub there as local officials wait for more doses of the vaccines.

Independent Vaccine Centers

The city of Allen and Baylor Scott & White Health (BSWH) are both working independently, meaning they are not using the county’s waitlist. The distinction matters because people who are waiting in line through Collin County will not hear from either Allen or BSHW about their status to receive the vaccine.

According to the city of Allen, they made the decision to work independently because the Allen Fire Department had already established a list and process by the time Collin County announced its wait list. They wanted to “maintain the integrity of [their own] list of subscribers and honor the process originally established... as they believed it would be the fastest way to begin administering the vaccine.” 

As for BSWH locations across the state, according to their website, they are using their digital portal--available to all Texans--to notify "those at the highest risk of severe illness from COVID-19," asking them to schedule an appointment. They are not using a waitlist, but are "vaccinating eligible patients in accordance with state and CDC guidelines."

To sign up with Allen, visit this website. Their mega center is located at Allen ISD's Eagle Stadium.

For a vaccine through BSWH, people can visit the hospital's COVID website, or call 844-279-8222. The hospital's staff will administer the vaccine at its facility in Frisco.

Rollout Roadblocks

The vaccine is in high demand, but there has been some confusion in the community on how to get it. The rollout in McKinney hit some roadblocks on Thursday. By the weekend the McKinney Fire Department already had to remind citizens that only people signed up through the county's waitlist will be vaccinated at the McKinney ISD stadium.

McKinney Mayor George Fuller said on Facebook Thursday that some people received a vaccine before people in line ahead of them. He said the issued was fixed.

"We investigated and identified that there was a data programming error that resulted in some people being scheduled for appointments out of sequence. This was purely a data entry error. We have corrected it and it will not happen moving forward."

On Saturday, the city's fire chief pleaded with citizens not to arrive at the stadium without reserving an appointment through the county's website.

"Unfortunately, we have limited resources and cannot accommodate walk-ups,” McKinney Fire Chief Danny Kistner said. "It becomes very difficult for our staff and volunteers to manage a lot of people who are coming to the site without an appointment."

Last week, the mayor expressed his concerns about the county's plan. He even said McKinney was prepared to move forward with its own plan if the county's plan becomes unworkable. At a Jan. 5 work session, he told council members discussed an "absence of communication." It seems the specifics of the vaccine rollout confused their constituents.

“I am hoping the plan rolled out by Collin County is something we feel comfortable with and are confident in, and we can move forward," Fuller said. "I hope to have confidence and I hope we’ll be able to work together. And if not, then McKinney will stand up, and we will assist the county."