AMARILLO, Texas (KFDA) - City leaders and health experts encouraged community members to take advantage of vaccinations during a news conference today, as some COVID-19 mutations have been reported in other parts of the country.
“It is a race against this virus to shut it down and shut down its reproduction,” said Dr. Brian Weis, chief medical officer at Northwest Texas Hospital System. “This virus is raging throughout this country...and as it rages it mutates.”
Area health professionals echoed his concerns, and said vaccinations can offer some protection from virus mutations as well, enough to potentially protect against a serious infection.
“The vaccine primes your immune system...it’s the immune memory that is triggered by a vaccine for these cells that allows you to develop an immune response to prevent an infection or prevent a severe infection,” said Dr. Michael Lamanteer, chief medical officer at BSA.
The Amarillo Public Health Department reported receiving 18,000 does of the Moderna vaccine since shipments began in Amarillo. At this time, the city vaccination clinic has nearly depleted their available doses.
Dr. Weis praised the clinic , stating that other clinics in the country have not been able to reach the same level of efficiency seen at the clinic ran by the Amarillo Public Health Department.
“Very few communities have been able to come up with such a successful plan as we have in Amarillo,” said Dr. Weis. “I certainly would encourage anyone considering a vaccine, please think very hard about it and take advantage of the great system we have in Amarillo.”
New vaccinations are arriving weekly, but Mayor Ginger Nelson said there is no set day for the vaccine shipments.
The vaccination clinic at the civic center is still the only location providing vaccinations from the health department, but Mayor Nelson said future plans to run a mobile vaccination clinic are being considered.
As health workers and members of the public begin to receive COVID-19 vaccinations, some have reached out to health officials regarding Amarillo’s herd immunity status.
Mayor Nelson said to calculate what it would take to reach herd immunity, the city will need to “comb through data” related to vaccinations received, recoveries and more.
At this time, it is unclear how many have received vaccinations as there is a backlog in processing paperwork from the vaccination clinic.
Health experts say the number of hospitalizations in Amarillo have started to plateau.
At BSA, there are 112 COVID-19 patients hospitalized and 40 of those patients are in the Intensive Care Unit.
NWTHS has 83 patients with COVID-19, and 38 of these patients are in the ICU.
The Amarillo Public Health Department reported a five-day new positive case average of 219 cases per day.