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WilCo Officials Criticized For Delaying Coronavirus Vaccination

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WilCo Officials Criticized For Delaying Coronavirus Vaccination

Williamson County, Texas – The county’s health district has generated controversy over a decision to close its offices for the Christmas break rather than immediately begin to administer the 900 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine it received on Wednesday, according to a published report.

Williamson County and Cities Health District officials announced Thursday they had received the first allotment of the Moderna vaccine ahead of schedule the previous day. But rather than immediately launching an inoculation campaign for frontline workers as other communities have done upon receiving their vaccines, the health district closed its office for Christmas break.

Health district officials told the Texas Tribune it would have been impossible to administer the vaccines on Saturday after having unexpectedly receiving them just three days before. A spokesperson for the Williamson County and Cities Health District explained to the Tribune the decision to hold off on vaccinating was to avoid “…last-minute changes that would generate potential chaos, reduce turnout, and increase the potential for wasted vaccine doses, which must be administered within six hours of opening a vial.”

Not everybody accepted the explanation, including Williamson County Judge Bill Gravell who noted some essential workers — particularly first responders across Williamson County — continued to work amid the holiday season. “We actually have the tool in our toolbox, and we’re hanging onto it,” he told the Tribune. “I’m just profoundly disappointed.”

Williamson County has been under the Stage 5 alert level for coronavirus — the highest, red-colored tier with the most rigorous safety guidelines — since Nov. 19. The Stage 5 level denotes uncontrolled community spread of the respiratory illness virus.

According to the Texas Department of State Health Services agency, Williamson County has the 16th highest number of cumulative cases of coronavirus at 18,568 as of Thursday. In terms of cumulative fatalities, the county has recorded 200 since the pandemic began — the 23rd highest level of deaths among the state’s 254 counties.

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