After 14 weeks and more than 250,000 shots reported to have been administered, Galveston County officials declared the mass COVID-19 vaccination hub at Walter Hall Park is no longer needed and officially closed the drive-through site Saturday afternoon.
“This is really a very happy day for us,” Local Health Authority Dr. Philip Keiser said. “When we started doing vaccinations here, our goal was to get as many people vaccinated as quickly as possible. And, I can honestly tell you it’s mission accomplished.”
The county now is asking people to shift to doctor’s offices, hospitals, pharmacies and other places to get the COVID-19 vaccination, Galveston County Judge Mark Henry said.
A totally local-level collaborative effort organized by Galveston County, the Galveston County Health District and the University of Texas Medical Branch, the hub was open to county and non-county residents alike.
“We routinely got emails from very pleased customers who said they were in and out in 20 minutes, and they were very happy about how effectively their local government was operating it,” Henry said. “We thank all of the volunteers; we could not have done this operation without hundreds and hundreds of volunteers.
“We had a little incentive, and that was if you volunteered, you got your vaccine that day,” Henry said. “That certainly encouraged volunteerism.”
About 800 vaccinations were administered on the hub’s first day of operation Jan. 23, but as the days and weeks went by, capacity increased to allow for about 5,000 inoculations per day, Henry said.
As far as Galveston County goes, Keiser said that more than half the population has had at least the first of two COVID-19 shots, with the number of fully vaccinated residents approaching the 40 percent mark.
“You’ll see numbers on the state website, and that’s behind in terms of where we are,” Keiser said. “Believe it or not, this is a hard thing to count.”
Henry noted that a significant portion of the county’s population — those under 16 — are not yet eligible to be vaccinated.
Moving forward, the county plans to continue to administer vaccinations at three separate sites: medical branch sites in League City and Galveston and the Galveston County Health District in Texas City.
Community outreach efforts will be part of the county’s plans moving forward, Keiser said.
Walter Hall Park will return to the its regular role as a county park on Monday, Henry said.