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Vaccine mega sites in Houston, Dallas Metroplex will stay open until May 18

Original source (on modern site) | Article images: [1]

Cayla Harris, Austin Bureau

April 7, 2021Updated: April 8, 2021 6:57 a.m.

Military personnel help facilitate the administration of a vaccine to prevent COVID-19 at the FEMA-run mass vaccination site at NRG Park on Monday, March 8, 2021, in Houston.

Mark Mulligan, Houston Chronicle / Staff photographer

Federal officials will keep staffing three COVID-19 vaccine mega sites in Houston and Dallas-Fort Worth through mid-May, Gov. Greg Abbott announced Wednesday.

The sites, operated through a state partnership with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, lunched in late February and were set to end their work next week. Now, the hubs will continue running through May 18, Abbott said.

The Houston site, located at NRG Stadium, is the largest vaccination spot in Texas, administering up to 6,000 shots per day. The hubs at Esports Stadium in Arlington and Fair Park in Dallas have each provided up to 3,000 doses daily.

"Our NRG operation continues breaking records in delivering vaccines," Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo tweeted. "Let's keep a good thing going."

The extension, however, is only a partial approval of Texas' request for the sites' continued operations. FEMA will still provide staff, but it will not give the state extra vaccine doses.

Texas has so far received additional shots outside of the state's weekly allocation to run the hubs. Under the new agreement, the state will use part of its allotment each week to keep the sites up and running.

"Thank you to FEMA for extending the use of federal personnel at these mass vaccination sites through the middle of May," Abbott said in a release. "Where the federal government falls short, Texas will step in by providing the supplies and vaccine doses needed to keep these successful sites operational."

Last week, the federal government allocated a record 2.5 million doses to Texas. More than 8.4 million Texans have received at least one shot so far.

The three mega sites were initially announced as pilot locations to bolster vaccination efforts in underserved communities. At the time, Abbott said the sites could extend to new locations if successful.

The Texas Department of Emergency Management requested that federal officials extend the three existing sites in late March. Officials also sought a new mega site at the Alamodome in San Antonio — an ask that was denied the same day.

Federal officials similarly cited a lack of resources in their denial, according to documents obtained by Hearst Newspapers.

cayla.harris@express-news.net

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