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Local physicians spend weekend distributing COVID-19 vaccines

Eleven local clinics and private physicians stepped up to vaccinate as many people as they could after appointments were put on hold last week.
Published: Feb. 22, 2021 at 11:13 PM CST
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LAREDO, Tex. (KGNS) - Another unintended consequence of last week’s winter blast? A shutdown of the city’s online vaccine program with thousands of vaccines on the line.

So when the city cast a rope for help, eleven local clinics and private physicians stepped up to vaccinate as many people as they could as the clock continues to tick away.

Laredo woke up Sunday morning to a beautiful day, a sharp contrast to last week.

However, instead of heading outdoors to enjoy the warm temperatures Doctor Victor Trevino and his staff were inside his clinic vaccinating his patients for COVID, using a supply of shots that came from the city, held back because of weather and power outages.

“The advantage of having vaccines in the offices, of doctor’s offices, is that we can identify patients that are vulnerable above 65 years old and patients that are vulnerable, and even though they are not our patients, they might be related to some of our patients.”

As is the case with Reynaldo Rocha, who also found himself indoors this weekend. Something he says he was glad to do as he struggled to find a shot over the last month.

“So I’ve got three kids and they all got online, two in San Antonio and one in Austin, and my other son here, four... and no avail, nothing, nothing come up.”

His kids even placed their dad on three waiting lists across south Texas.

But then the news came that private physicians were getting ahold of vaccines this weekend....

“Then my daughter called this gentleman here and he answered the phone and he said, ‘you know what, we can go ahead and take your name down, it might be a week or so,’ and right away we were able to get in here not too long after that and so here we are.”

Meanwhile, just a few miles down the road at Doctor Ricardo Cigarroa’s office, his vaccine clinic was was well underway with a lofty goal of vaccinated 400 people by the end of the day, using a well-thought out system that began even before stepping foot into his clinic.

Once inside after filling out required documents, hall monitors and coordinators led you to one of 18 vaccination rooms, each with a nurse guiding you through the process.

An organized system that City Manager Robert Eads says is ideal in reaching the city’s goal of vaccinating 207,000 people in order to hit herd immunity.

“So when we do have an ability to go directly to the patients and know the patients who are qualified already as those who need that vaccine, it makes sense to us so we do hope that we can continue at least a large portion of what we’re doing within the walls of clinics, doctors offices as well, because again, it gets to the people that need it without a doubt, and two, its done cutting through all the other systems that we have for the general online vaccine portals and everything else, lets keep it within the walls of a clinic or doctors office,” said Eads.

A sentiment shared by those physicians who spent their Sunday with a syringe in their hand.

“And that is purpose of doing it this way and I believe in this fashion we can get more to the public that greatly needs a vaccines, this is going to be a one-step further to get more people vaccinated,” said Doctor Trevino.

The city handed over 1,450 vaccines to the 11 providers who stepped up to vaccinate their patients.

No word on the total number that were vaccinated over the weekend, but we do know that Doctor Trevino vaccinated 110 people including ambulance and homebound patients.

Doctor Cigarroa was able to vaccinate 419 patients.

This prompted the city to encourage more primary care physicians to participating.

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