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NRG Park mega vaccination site will stay open through May 18

Judge Hidalgo says the site hit a new high of more than 7,000 vaccinations in one day on Monday. It averages about 6,000 per day.

HOUSTON — FEMA and the Texas Department of Emergency Management will keep three community vaccination centers in Houston, Dallas, and Arlington running through May 18, Gov. Greg Abbott announced Wednesday.

Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo said the NRG Park site, which will now run an additional four weeks, is breaking records in delivering vaccines.

Hidalgo said the site hit a new high of more than 7,000 vaccinations in one day on Monday. It averages about 6,000 per day.

NRG Park is just one of at least 77 sites Harris County is using to vaccinate people. Most are much smaller and often more convenient in places like community centers, assisted living facilities, and churches.

Greater Pure Light Church in the Aldine area of north Harris County hosted a mobile vaccine unit Wednesday morning.

“It’s all about the community, making sure that our community has the ability to get the vaccination,” said Pastor Darryl W. Broussard.

Harris County Public Health is targeting these mobile vaccine sites toward the 25 ZIP codes hit hardest by COVID-19.

“The ZIP codes that have had the most cases per capita, the ZIP codes that don’t have access to health insurance, to transportation,” explained Hidalgo. “This is one of those ZIP codes. This is number 13 on the list.”

In Aldine and surrounding areas on the county’s north side, some ZIP codes have only 11 to 12 percent of people vaccinated, while areas on the west side like Bellaire, West University Place, and Memorial are around 50 percent.

Many low-vaccination ZIP codes lack pharmacies, health care, transportation, and internet access.

“We’ve been going door to door in many of these zip codes, we’ve sent mailers, we’ve sent radio ads,” said Hidalgo. “We have sent digital ads”

The county judge says messaging can also be a challenge. She’s urging people who get the shot to help others overcome vaccine hesitancy by using what she calls the most powerful tool: positive word of mouth.

Harris County Public Health is offering rides to vaccine sites for those with appointments but without transportation.

They’re also letting people pick between a one-dose or two-dose shot.