The first does of COVID-19 vaccine were administered Tuesday at Kaufman County’s new vaccination hub at the TVCC Health Sciences Center in Terrell.

Standing outside the hub as health professionals administered the first shots, state Rep. Keith Bell, who was instrumental in getting the hub established, “Of all the things I’ll do over the next 134 days, I believe this is the most important. … We’re going to save lives.”

The new county hub in Terrell took delivery of 500 does of vaccine this week, and it will be ordering 1,000 doses in the next several weeks before upping that to 2,000 a week as people come to get their second dose.

As of Feb. 2, 17,106 people had registered to be vaccinated at the hub, according to Dustin Conner, the city’s manager of emergency services. Some of those who registered may also have registered in other locations, so the number awaiting vaccination at the hub in Terrell may actually be fewer.

Asked how long it will take to get a vaccination at the hub, city officials said much depends on the availability of vaccine from the state and federal governments. Still, City Manager Mike Sims estimated that it will take through February and March before everyone now registered can get vaccinated.

In addition to the new hub site at TVCC’s Health Sciences Center, Walmart announced last week that it will begin offering vaccinations at its store in Terrell. Brookshire’s in Terrell also has administered vaccine at its pharmacy.

Bell said that getting more vaccinations to constituents in Kaufman and Henderson counties became his priority with the new legislative session. About three weeks ago, he began working with the Governor’s Office, the Texas Department of Emergency Management, the Department of State Health Services and Kaufman County Judge Hal Richards to see that remaining federal CARES Act funding could be tapped for a vaccination site in Kaufman County.

“It was no small feat to secure this funding,” he said. Ultimately, the team secured $1.2 million for the hub, which will largely be funded by FEMA.

As vaccine supplies grow at the state level, “we will increase the scale of delivery at the vaccine hub,” Bell said.

Terrell Mayor Rick Carmona said of the new vaccination hub site: “We are going to be saving lives, and we’re also going to be calming things down to some extent, especially for the elderly who are worried and concerned. If we can get them vaccinated and give them a little peace, that’s a good thing.”

As of Feb. 3, Kaufman County was reporting 455 suspected cases of COVID-19 infection. Roughly 50 cases were in the Terrell city limit as of Feb. 2.

Since the start of the pandemic, 185 people in Kaufman County have died from coronavirus-related illnesses. More than 13,400 have been infected with the virus, according to the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University.

Across Texas, more than 38,2000 people have died, and nationally, COVID-19 has claimed the lives of more than 450,000 Americans.

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