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Fort Bend County vaccine update: 4,000 people get COVID shots at Smart Financial Center

On the first day of the county's drive-thru vaccine site, thousands of thankful recipients got their first dose.

FORT BEND COUNTY, Texas — On Wednesday, 4,000 people with appointments got their first COVID-19 vaccine doses on the first day of a new drive-thru clinic in Sugar Land.

RELATED: Fort Bend County to offer drive-thru COVID vaccinations at Smart Financial Centre

More than 16,000 people in the state’s Phase 1A and 1B groups will get the shots through Saturday at the Smart Financial Centre. All appointments have been booked.

“It’s easier on those that are supporting it like us, and it’s easier on the patient to never have to leave their car,” Binita Patel said of the drive-thru format.

Patel is Vice President of Pharmacy Services with Memorial Hermann. She said cars began lining up an hour and a half before the event started.

Ralph Ford said he felt relief after getting his first dose early Wednesday morning.

“It takes a little bit off the anxiety and worry,” Ford said.

David Burkepile said he, too, was relieved after a long wait to find a place offering the vaccine.

“It means we’re getting started,” Burkepile said. “We all need to get one.”

More than 300 volunteers made the event possible. Those include deputies, student nurses and physicians like Dr. Deepti Mishra.

“This has been one of the most gratifying experiences I think for everyone involved in this project,” Mishra said

Mishra, Vice President and Chief Medical Officer at Memorial Hermann Medical Group, said one big reason is the gratitude from patients.

“We’ve had cars go through with ‘thank you’ signs,” Mishra said. “We’ve had a few of our community members crying because they’re just so overcome with emotion and that they have been finally able to receive the vaccine.”

Mishra said as a physician, the experience reminds her of why she entered the profession. She added that after nearly a year of seeing sick patients, working this event is healthcare workers’ chance to make a difference against the disease.

“I think everyone that’s here feels like this is our shot of hope,” Mishra said.

Patel said Memorial Hermann officials want to hold more drive-thru vaccine clinics in Fort Bend County. She said that will happen with more supply of the vaccine.