Aladdin Shafer drove in the snow from Kilgore to Longview early Monday morning to get a shot that he hopes will soon allow life in East Texas to return to normal.
“I feel a lot safer now,” Shafer said moments after receiving his first COVID-19 vaccine. “It went really quick, and it didn’t hurt at all.”
Shafer was among about 600 East Texans to receive a dose of Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine on Monday morning at the Longview Fairgrounds.
Longview Regional Medical Center partnered with the Longview Fire Department, City of Longview, Gregg County Sheriff’s Office and the Gregg County Health Department to offer the communitywide vaccine clinic for residents who are in the first tier, called phases 1A and 1B, of the state’s vaccination program. The first tier includes health care workers, frontline workers, people over 65 and those in long-term care facilities. It is the first public vaccine clinic to be held in Longview since COVID-19 vaccines became available, starting in December.
“The most rewarding part of today’s vaccination clinic, by far, was witnessing what a monumental moment today was, not only for health care but for the individuals receiving the vaccine,” LRMC Marketing Director Libby Bryson said. “Today, we saw hope on the horizon in the eyes of each person involved.”
Carlos Barton Griffin Sr., 88, and his wife, Margaret Griffin, 86, were among the first people to be vaccinated Monday. Carlos Barton Griffin Sr., who owns Griffin Ranch — Gregg County’s oldest ranch — with his family, said he was glad to get the vaccination behind him and that he was thankful to Longview Regional Medical Center and the City of Longview for partnering for the effort.
“I was very proud to get it,” Margaret Griffin added. “We definitely thank all of our county people and our doctors and our nurses and especially President Trump.”
Carroll and Mary Greenwaldt, of Longview, also said they appreciated the hospital and the city for organizing the effort.
“It’s been hard to find out where to go or where to get the information, so this is really helpful,” Carroll Greenwaldt said.
Mary Greenwaldt said the vaccination was painless and commended Longview firefighters who were administering the shots Monday.
“It was wonderful. I didn’t even feel the actual shot,” she said. “That was amazing. He did a great job.”
The Greenwaldts said their children and grandchildren are happy they received the vaccine Monday and they would encourage others to consider getting it when they have the opportunity.
“Come and get it so life in Longview can be returning to normal sooner,” Carroll Greenwaldt said.
Those who received the vaccine at Monday’s communitywide clinic are eligible to receive a second dose of the Moderna vaccine at a follow-up clinic, scheduled for Feb. 8. Participants were asked to sign up for both clinics ahead of time, and both dates were booked within about one hour of Longview Regional posting the sign up.
“The most rewarding part of today’s vaccination clinic, by far, was witnessing what a monumental moment today was, not only for health care but for the individuals receiving the vaccine,” Bryson said. “Today, we saw hope on the horizon in the eyes of each person involved.”
“Longview Regional Medical Center is proud to care for our East Texas communities. Through hosting a communitywide COVID-19 vaccine clinic for people in schedules 1A and 1B, our hospital had the honor to provide vaccinations to the community’s most vulnerable.”
COVID-19 vaccines from pharmaceutical companies Pfizer and Moderna first began coming to Longview in December. Initially doses were administered to health care workers, then to first responders. As more vaccines become available, Longview Regional is continuing to use the state’s guidance regarding to whom doses should be administered.
The state is continuing to allocate COVID-19 vaccines to communities across Texas. This week, which makes Week Five of the vaccine allocation program, 200 more doses are coming to Longview.
Select Specialty Hospital will receive 100 doses and Wellness Pointe will receive 100 doses, according to an allocation list provided by the Texas Department of State Health Services.
In the surrounding community, Smith County will receive more than 4,000 additional vaccine doses this week. The Northeast Texas Public Health District in Tyler will receive 1,500 doses; UT Health Science Center in Tyler will receive 1,500 doses; the Texas Department of State Health Service regional headquarters in Tyler will receive 1,000 doses; and Christus Trinity Mother Frances Rehabilitation Hospital will receive 100 doses. In Panola County, UT Health in Carthage is set to receive 100 additional doses.
NET Health CEO George Roberts said the health district will be hosting vaccine drive-thru clinics at Harvey Convention Center in Tyler every week based on an appointment and waiting-list system. To become a part of the waiting list, visit nethealthcovid19.org .