April 26 will be the last day to sign up for a first dose of the free COVID-19 vaccine at the Cleburne vaccination hub, Cleburne Fire Chief Scott Lail announced Tuesday.
Those who already received their first dose at the hub will still be able to get second doses through May 21.
“We will start to pull down at the end of April,” Lail said. “The last week of April will be the last week that we will give new first doses. Then, the first three weeks of May with the last week ending on May 21 we will only give second doses so we will finish out our obligation to people that we gave a first dose to. And, at that point, we will pull the hub down.”
Demand for vaccinations in Cleburne and throughout the state, with the exception of several mega hubs, has plummeted, Lail said.
“The state has agreed that, starting this week, they will drop our allocation from 2,340 new doses a week to 1,170 so dropping it by half,” Lail said. “But as we begin pulling down allocations to your Kroger’s, doctor offices and pharmacies are going to begin going up.”
As demand drops staffing the hub becomes more difficult, Lail said.
“Right now we have a huge operation still up and, as demand drops off, the need for having staff and volunteers drops off also,” Lail said. “It’s getting hard to staff continually because we’re kind of breaking over that edge and dropping down so I’m having to turn volunteers loose.”
Lail said he hopes to retain military volunteers, if possible, for at least another week.
“Because next week should be a fairly big week for us because of people coming in for second doses,” Lail said. “But after that we’re going to look at turning the military loose because there are other vaccine hubs that could use their help.”
Lail said it’s possible, though not guaranteed, that the Cleburne Fire Department, who is overseeing operation of the Cleburne hub, may receive additional vaccines after May 21.
“If the state does allocate say 500 or more vaccines to us after that date we can still give them and will make an announcement if that should happen,” Lail said.
Johnson County Emergency Management Director Jamie Moore also cited declining demand behind the decision to wind down the Cleburne hub
“The week before we opened the hub to everyone 16 and older it took about an hour and 15 minutes to fill all the appointment slots because demand was high,” Moore said. “Last week it took a day and a half. What that tells us is that the demand for people who would like to get a COVID-19 shot is going down significantly.
“That’s also a trend we had seen before they opened it up to 16 and older, when it was only 65 and older, was that for weeks it had been trending down. Then they opened it to 16 and older and we saw a big influx but now we’re already seeing that trend down.”
Moore said that larger hubs such at Tarrant County, which previously had long waiting lists, have since caught up thus decreasing the number of people traveling to Cleburne from other counties for vaccines.
Lail and Moore urged those wanting vaccines to sign up now.
How to register
Registration for the Cleburne hub opens at 9 a.m. Each Monday and remains open until all available slots are filled. The number of slots available depends upon the number of vaccine doses sent to the hub on that particular week.
To register visit cleburne.net/covid19 vaccine or call 817-357-4456.
Cleburne Fire Chief Scott Lail urges registrants to use the website. The goal, Lail said, is to leave the phone number available solely for those without internet access.
“We’ve had instances of people who have internet calling instead,” Lail said. “What that does is tie up our phone lines and block people who truly have no other way to register. So, if possible, please use the website instead. It’s an easy process and only takes a few minutes to complete. Also, if you have family members or anyone else without internet access please try to help them get signed up online too.”
Johnson County Judge Roger Harmon thanked Moore, Lail and their staffs for their work in setting up and running the hub. Harmon added that state Sen. Brian Birdwell, R-Granbury, recently commended both for their efforts.
Cleburne Mayor Scott Cain thanked both as well.
“This is the end game that we’ve hoped for where we can get to the point where we can start ramping down,” Cain said. “Texas has done an exemplary job with vaccinations and you guys and everyone involved has done an unbelievable job with the hub in Cleburne.
“But, as our numbers continue to plummet and we feel like we’re getting back to life I want to encourage all our residents if you haven’t got a vaccine to go ahead and get signed up. It’s wide open right now and super easy to get in.
Testing center closed
Cleburne’s free COVID-19 testing center is history. The state-run facility closed Monday thanks, like the vaccination hub, to declining demand.
“Testing numbers last week were just under 40 people for the four days it was open,” Moore said. “We were still at a 10 percent positivity rate, which is no change from the last four weeks before that. We’ve also seen a huge decline in the number of COVID-19 cases in area hospitals.
“Options for those needing to be tested now go to primary physicians or urgent care centers all over Johnson County.”