Coronavirus

Bell County will host one of Texas’ 28 COVID-19 vaccination hubs, according to a Monday news release from the county’s public information officer.

These sites will span across 18 state-designated counties.

Bell County spokesman James Stafford said more than 4,000 residents are reported to have registered through the Bell County Public Health District’s online waitlist for a COVID-19 vaccination — a resource that has since been paused while an appointment-booking tool is developed.

The health district plans to launch the new appointment-booking system “as early as Thursday” with anticipation that the 3,900 COVID-19 vaccines allocated by the Texas Department of State Health Services will be delivered later this week.

“Delivery is anticipated within the next day or two,” Stafford said.

During state Rep. Hugh Shine’s monthly forum at the Belton Area Chamber of Commerce on Monday, Bell County Judge David Blackburn said the county’s allocated shipment is for Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine.

“I was advised last night that the vaccines are in the mail, so to speak,” Blackburn said.

Stafford highlighted how county officials have developed a vaccination distribution plan that currently features two immunization sites.

“In accordance with state guidelines and protocols, the plan is to begin scheduling vaccination appointments for eligible recipients within 24 to 48 hours of the vaccines being delivered,” he said. “As more vaccines arrive … there may be additional vaccine centers opened.”

Although Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said these hubs will help Texas expedite vaccine distribution in an efficient manner, he stressed the importance of existing COVID-19 guidance.

“While vaccines are an important step in the long-term fight against the virus, I encourage Texans to continue to follow the best practices to keep yourself and loved ones safe like wearing a mask and practicing social distancing,” Abbott said during a Monday news conference.

The Texas Department of State Health Services also emphasized how distribution is dependent on manufacturing capacity.

“Vaccine remains limited based on the capacity of the manufacturers to produce it, so it will take time for Texas to receive enough vaccine for all the people in the priority populations who want to be vaccinated,” The State Health Services department said in a Sunday news release. “The supply is expected to increase in the coming months, and additional vaccines are in clinical trials and may be authorized by the Food and Drug Administration.”

Staff writer Jacob Sanchez contributed to this report.

jvalley@tdtnews.com