Free clinic to continue at UTPB

Free COVID testing also coming next week, Huber says

Odessa Fire Rescue Assistant Chief Rodd Huber doesn’t know if it was better weather or the FDA granting emergency use authorization for a Pfizer COVID booster that brought more people out Thursday to a free vaccine site at UTPB.

“It’s good news …,” Huber said during Thursday’s COVID Zoom call with local health officials. Huber has spearheaded a vaccine clinic this week that had barely a trickle of takers on Tuesday and Wednesday, but 100 people showed up Thursday — likely keeping the free vaccine site up and running rather than being shut down as some organizers feared on Wednesday.

“It’s been very successful,” Huber said, adding that free COVID testing is also coming next week.

Huber said the free tests will be the PCR (not a rapid test) and that they hope to have it set up next week by Monday at McKinney Park from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. “We want to relieve the stress at some of the clinics … These are just two of the many things we are trying to do for our community.”

A booster shot of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is recommended six months after initial vaccination for a number of groups, a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advisory committee said Thursday.

The panel said no to a measure recommending adults 18 to 64 who work in or are in settings that put them at high risk of exposure receive booster shots “based on individual benefit and risk.”

People 65 and older, those who live in long-term care facilities and adults with underlying medical conditions should receive booster shots, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices said.

The vote comes one day after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration authorized booster doses of the Pfizer vaccine.

COVID-related hospitalizations are slightly down in Odessa. MCH Chief Nursing Officer and Chief Experience Officer Christin Timmons said Medical Center Hospital had 74 patients as of Thursday with 28 in critical care. About 77 percent of those hospitalized were not vaccinated and the age range of patients is 30-89. Most patients continue to be from Ector County. She said four employees are out.

Timmons reminded those visiting MCH to wear a mask at all times.

ORMC CEO Stacey Brown said her hospital had 21 COVID patients with 15 in ICU and 10 of those on a ventilator. She said 95 percent of those 21 are unvaccinated and that 69 percent of the patients are under age 5. “A little bit concerning on the age range,” she said.

ORMC had eight staff members out.

ORMC Chief of Staff Dr. Rohith Saravanan reminded those seeking the booster Pfizer vaccine that you need to wait six months after the primary immunization before seeking a booster. He said only the Pfizer booster has been approved and that, yes, those who got the Moderna vaccine can get the Pfizer booster, but offered guidance that unless someone is elderly or high risk that they should wait and get the Moderna booster when it is approved if the original vaccines were Moderna.

Both Saravanan and Timmons discussed the recent White House guidance ordering those who work in hospitals and those companies that have more than 100 workers to mandate that all employees are vaccinated.

Timmons said to her knowledge that no further guidance has come down on that issue.

Saravanan said “we need to be careful when things come out on the news … It’s a long way to go before that order from the President would flow down the local level.”

COVID news/reminders

  • The Urgent Care on 42nd remains closed. All staff has been relocated to JBS Parkway and Westside.

Need a vaccine?

  • The City of Odessa, the University of Texas Permian Basin and the Ector County Health Department will continue a COVID-19 vaccination clinic. The clinic will begin Tuesday and is open Tuesdays–Fridays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the UTPB soccer complex parking lot.
  • Drivers are asked to not line up on the Highway 191 frontage road. First and second shots will be offered. Third shots will be available for those who have passed the 6-month threshold, unless a doctor’s note is provided.
  • Information on booster shots is subject to change in accordance with CDC guidelines. The vaccination clinic is open to the public. Five-hundred (500) vaccines are available each day. No appointment or pre-registration is needed. Both Pfizer and Moderna will be available.
  • Bring a vaccination card (wait times are expected to increase without vaccination card) and your driver’s license.