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Harlingen pharmacy administers Moderna vaccine to first responders, home healthcare workers

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FILE – In this March 16, 2020 file photo, a subject receives a shot in the first-stage safety study clinical trial of a potential vaccine by Moderna for COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus, at the Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute in Seattle. Britain, the United States and Canada accused Russia on Thursday July 16, 2020, of trying to steal information from researchers seeking a COVID-19 vaccine. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, File)

Harlingen, Texas (KVEO)—The 8,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine, designated for medical providers in Cameron County, arrived to a pharmacy in the city of Harlingen.

Harlingen Fire Department Assistant Fire Chief Eduardo Alvarez was the first to receive the Moderna vaccine at Garcia’s Pharmacy, followed by other firefighters.  

“We’re kinda excited,” he said. “We’re hoping the vaccine will get us back to some type normalcy. That’s the reason why we’re here”  

That excitment and longing for a return to normal was shared by home healthcare employees also in line.  

“I’m looking forward to this,” Elida Evans, Greystar Healthcare Services assistant administrator said. “Maybe it’ll be a change because all this isolation is hard on everybody, so it’ll hopefully bring in more so we all can be back to normality.”  

Pharmacy Technician Abigail Vasquez says they learned they’d be getting 100 doses of the vaccine just last Thursday upon its emergency use authorization by the FDA, leading the staff to work overtime to prepare.  

“It has been a little overwhelming, but at the same time exciting because this is a historic moment,” she said.  

The doses have already been allocated, but in the event there are extra and those in the distribution plan’s first tier are not available, the state has instructed them to vaccinate anyone interested.  

“Once its thawed and we puncture the vial, we only have six hours to be able to use up the vial,” Vasquez said. “If we don’t use it within those six hours, whatever doses are in there do go to waste.”  

The second dose is set to arrive in 28 days. Due to the high demand, Vasquez submitted a request to the state for an even larger shipment.  

“In the beginning, we didn’t know anything about it, so the unknown is very scary,” she said. “But now that we have great scientists in this country who were able to work tirelessly on this vaccine, now there’s hope.”  

Vaccinations were administered all day Thursday and are scheduled to resume Saturday. Recipients are being encouraged to track and report any symptoms on the CDC and FDA website.

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