Fort Bend County to enter agreement for community vaccine outreach program, amid contention

Fort Bend County to enter agreement for community vaccine outreach program, amid contention

The initiative, meant to provide residents with reliable vaccine information, was approved in a 3-2 vote at the July 13 Fort Bend County Commissioners Court. (Morgan Jones/Community Impact Newspaper)

Fort Bend County commissioners approved a community vaccine outreach program, in a 3-2 vote at their July 13 Commissioners Court meeting. The initiative was originally proposed July 6, and ahead of its approval this week, multiple members of the public spoke against it, claiming it is a form of government overreach.

The county will use up to $345,000 of FEMA-Public Assistance funds in an agreement with consulting group Next Wave Strategies LLC, with the goal of providing reliable information to citizens, especially those that are most vulnerable to COVID-19, according to County Judge KP George.

George voted in favor of the program, along with commissioners Grady Prestage and Ken DeMerchant, and ahead of the vote he gave a statement saying this effort is meant to continue Fort Bend’s success so far as a leading county in the state in terms of percent of population vaccinated.

“All happened because of the continuous outreach from various organizations, nonprofit organizations, and also each and every one of our offices,” George said. “There is a great urgency to do everything we can do to support, educate, inform our community members, specifically those who are most vulnerable in our community so they can make an educated decision about getting vaccinated. Life is precious and we are trying to provide information to the community.”

Precinct 3 Commissioner Andy Meyers voted against the initiative, questioning its necessity given this success.

“Out of 254 counties, we’re right at the top … in the number of vaccinations in the county,” Meyers said. “I question why in the world we need to spend $345,000 of taxpayers money in this particular effort, since we’re already doing what is obviously an outstanding job.”

Meyers also said it is his personal policy to not vote in favor of entities who are politically opposed to him, as is Next Wave Strategies, he said. Vincent Morales, Precinct 1 commissioner, likewise cited reasons against the consulting group in his decision to vote against the agreement.

“Any consultant hired to advise the residents of Fort Bend County as to the pros and cons of vaccination of COVID-19 virus should have a medical background that would ensure that the consultant has the requisite, the expertise to confidently advise our citizens,” Morales said.

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