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Houston Health Department, HFD paramedics receive Moderna vaccinations

Mayor Sylvester Turner said both departments each received 3,000 doses of the vaccine, which he considers a major step in Houston’s ongoing battle with coronavirus.

Employees with the Houston Health Department and Houston Fire Department paramedics started receiving Moderna COVID-19 vaccines on Monday.

During a press conference, Mayor Sylvester Turner said both departments each received 3,000 doses of the vaccine, which he considers a major step in Houston’s ongoing battle with coronavirus.

“Today is a big day for Houston,” Turner said. “Houston has received a potentially life-saving gift just in time for the holidays.”

“This is the beginning of the end,” said Dr. David Persse, the city’s chief medical officer.

Health care providers and first responders qualify for the state’s Phase 1A vaccination group. Also included in Phase 1A are hospital workers, nursing home providers, community pharmacy staff, embalmers at funeral homes, and school nurses.

“Over the next few days we will be offering vaccines to over 365 HISD and Pearland school nurses who currently qualify, all of those who are in Phase 1A,” said HHD Director Stephen Williams.

Dr. Persse encourages anyone who qualifies for Phase 1A, whether you’re in Tier 1 or Tier 2 group, to get vaccinated.

“This is going to help you personally because it’s going to help you protect yourself, but also remember the person you are most likely to infect is a member of your very own family. So when your opportunity comes up for you to get vaccinated, I would jump on that” Persse said.

COVID by the numbers in Houston

The city of Houston stands at an 11.6 percent COVID positivity rate. Last week, the positivity rate was 11.2.

The health department added an additional 765 positive cases Monday, bringing the city’s total to 116,043. The death toll due to coronavirus us 1,544.

“If I can put it in these terms, even though the numbers are high in terms of the number of people getting the virus, the death numbers still remain relatively low and when you compare it to other [parts] of the country,” Turner said.

City officials said the health department will continue to play its traditional role in the fight against COVID-19, including offering vaccines in multi-service centers once doses become available to the general public.

“We will use the same principles and strategies that we used for testing, mobile testing sites, strike teams, to ensure that there is sufficient vaccine uptake in vulnerable communities especially,” said Williams.

HFD Chief Sam Pena said coronavirus has ravaged the department, so receiving doses of the Moderna vaccine is extremely exciting for his department.

He said firefighters have been responding extremely well to getting the vaccine and he hopes to get all firefighters vaccinated within the month.

As of Monday, there are 192 HFD firefighters in quarantine. There is currently one firefighter in the emergency room due to respiratory issues after testing positive for the virus.

The city is hoping the Houston Police Department will start receiving vaccines by next week as well as more people beyond the health department and EMS workers.