FORT WORTH, Texas — With the Denton County Judge likening the success of the effort to "Chick-fil-A efficiency," the county and a small army of volunteers were well on their way to their stated goal of 10,000 COVID-19 vaccinations in their first day of work at the mass vaccination site at the Texas Motor Speedway.
The site, with vaccinations by appointment only through Denton County's COVID-19 vaccination portal, began operations at 7:20 a.m. on Tuesday. By noon, 4,000 people had already been vaccinated in a 16-lane system that essentially allowed medical personnel to vaccinate 32 people at a time, passenger and driver, without vaccine recipients ever leaving their vehicles.
"We support our vaccination clinics and are providing the resources to have a mass vaccination clinic, not only for Denton County but all of the metroplex for people who are coming from all over that have registered on our site," said Denton County Judge Andy Eads. "We welcome those folks here."
Vaccine recipients do not have to be Denton County residents. Anyone can register. But to get an appointment at the TMS site, the appointment has to be confirmed through the Denton County site. The location does not offer "walk-up" vaccinations.
John and Nan Sedgwick of Little Elm were among the first vaccine recipients at TMS on Tuesday.
"Oh it was fantastic," Nan Sedgwick said. The process had them pass through a registration tent, then a medical screening tent and then a vaccination tent in under 30 minutes. Sedgwick says she has known several co-workers to contract and survive COVID-19 and says she lost a brother-in-law in the past year who had COVID-19 as an underlying condition.
"We're pretty excited," she said as they waited in one final line: a 15-minute wait to make sure there were no adverse reactions to the vaccine. "We're looking forward to seeing family again."
Dale and Lil Deterling of Plano, both in their 80s, praised the efficiency of the drive-thru process as well.
"Excellent," Dale Deterling said of the process. "Excellent, yes."
"I am very happy that I have it. That's for sure," Lil Deterling said after receiving the first vaccine dose, especially with the knowledge that her husband lost a former Texas A&M classmate to COVID-19 during the pandemic.
"I would hope that people would take the vaccine because there's no harm from taking it and there's everything to gain from taking it," Dale Deterling said. "And if we do that I think we can lick this thing."
Denton County, with the help of multiple agencies from both Denton and Tarrant Counties, will operate the Texas Motor Speedway site again this Thursday and Friday with a total of 30,000 vaccine doses available this week. Future operation of the site, perhaps through the entire month of February, is dependent on vaccine supply.
"The way Denton County has designed our site here at Texas Motor Speedway it is totally scalable for more vaccinations for each day," said Eads. "So right now we've planned it for 10,000 (a day). We could totally scale this operation to much larger. We're just waiting on the vaccine."
"Everything is going very well. Knock on wood if you will," said David Hart with TMS. "So with a goal of 1,000 an hour and 10,000 a day we're right on target for that. So very pleased with how things are working."
Judge Eads says there are currently more than 140,000 people registered through the Denton County COVID-19 vaccination portal and that they will receive notification of a vaccination appointment as soon as additional supplies arrive.