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COVID-19 vaccines arrive for veterans, first responders

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Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccines are being made available to veterans enrolled in Kerrville and San Antonio VA clinics, while Bandera Emergency Management said Monday that vaccines have been distributed to some first responders in Bandera county.

The news comes as Bandera County reached 746 total COVID-19 cases, 81 of which were considered active by the Bandera Emergency Management as of Monday, causing bingo halls in the county to postpone events.

Bandera Emergency Management announced last week that Audie L. Murphy Hospital, located at 7400 Merton Minter in San Antonio, and Frank M. Tejeda VA Outpatient Clinic, located at 5788 Eckhert Road in San Antonio will offer the Pfizer’s vaccine to enrolled veterans at least 75 years of age.

“Large scale vaccination is the key to ending the disruption of COVID-19. My team won’t rest until we’ve vaccinated every veteran enrolled in our healthcare system. I ask that our nation’s heroes show their bravely by getting vaccinated, leading this nation as they have so many times before.” said Medical Center Director Christopher Sandals in a statement.

“We have several thousand doses for Veterans 75 and older, of which we have 12,000 enrolled. We are offering the vaccine to this group early, but if unused, will immediately expand the offering to younger Veterans,” he said.

Vaccines are also being made available to veterans enrolled at the Kerville VA Medical Center, located at 3600 Memorial Boulevard.

Veterans must bring identification and plan for an extended wait time.

Vaccines are not being made available to caregivers or family members.

Carey Reed, Bandera Emergency Management Coordinator, said Tuesday that some vaccines have been administered to first responders, and there are others still waiting to receive that list. City and county officials are next on the list.

“At the same time, we are working on getting the vaccines to those over 65 and with underlying health conditions,” said Reed.

Reed said as soon as they know how many doses are available, they will call and schedule people.

Numbers released by Reed, provided to her by Region 8 of the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS), say that Bandera has seen 746 COVID-19 cases to date, 662 of which have been recovered and 81 are considered active. DSHS’s death count remains at 3.

These numbers differ from other sources, some of which list Bandera’s death count at 11.

Reed says these sources are estimated and not confirmed, and the county reports DSHS Region 8 numbers.

The rise in COVID-19 cases, which reached a county high of 91 on Friday, prompted local bingo halls to postpone their scheduled events.

Weekly Wednesday night bingo hosted by the Bandera American Legion Post 157 has been postponed in the interest of safety for both players and volunteers, according to legion commander Susan Junket

The City of Bandera recently issued guidance limiting the number of occupants/players to 56, half the authorized building occupancy.

“This was a difficult decision, as this is a staple of community entertainment and nonprofit fundraising,” said Dennis Birchall, Bingo Chairman. “The health and safety of our players and volunteers is paramount. We look forward to reopening as soon as we are permitted and the risk has been reduced,

A significant portion of Legion bingo profits are distributed to other local non-profits, such as Boy Scout Troop 146, Volunteer Fire Departments, EMS, and others.

The Pipe Creek Volunteer Fire Department bingo, normally held on Friday nights, has also been suspended until further notice.