Communities come together to provide vaccinations

Communities come together to provide vaccinations

Area doctors from varying cultural backgrounds worked together to overcome physical barriers to provide local residents and first responders with tetanus vaccinations desperately needed following Hurricane Harvey’s historic flooding.

Toxins swirled in the murky floodwaters Southeast Texans waded through to get to rescue boats during the storm and to muck out homes after the natural disaster. Rusty nails protruding from exposed beams continue to pose a danger. Tetanus vaccinations were in short supply in Harvey’s aftermath, and local physician Dr. Qamar Arfeen, who has been providing free vaccinations to local emergency staff and civilians, needed more to keep up with the high demand.

But when the vaccination supply was at its lowest, generosity was at its highest. Volunteers from the Cajun Navy who had swept into the area to rescue citizens trapped by perilous floodwaters then went above and beyond by assisting with relief supplies, like the vitally important tetanus vaccinations.

When the Cajun Navy heard tetanus vaccinations were needed, they leapt into action. With one phone call, Cajun Navy volunteer Michelle Uí Cheallaigh was able to quickly facilitate a private donation of 310 tetanus vaccinations from Dr. Suneel Chilikuri, an Indian dermatologist of Refresh Dermatology in Houston. Dr. Chilikuri generously paid out of his own pocket for 310 tetanus vaccinations that were critically needed in Hurricane Harvey’s aftermath, sending them to Dr. Arfeen, who is Pakistani.

Cheallaigh and the Cajun Navy coordinated the secure transport of the donated vaccinations to Southeast Texas where Dr. Arfeen’s local Diagnostic Group clinics were able to administer the shots to residents of Southeast Texas free of charge.

Dr. Garrett Peel, CEO of Beaumont’s Previty Clinic for Surgical Care and a Texas native, coordinated the efforts between the Cajun Navy and Diagnostic Group and was a key player in getting the desperately needed vaccinations to the Beaumont area.

With the majority of medical facilities and hospitals closed in the days following the catastrophic flooding Harvey brought to Southeast Texas, Arfeen and staff saw an increased need for medical service in the area. Although some of the staff were impacted by the flooding, the Diagnostic Group team worked tirelessly to meet the medical needs of Southeast Texans and opened two clinics, one in Silsbee and one in Beaumont, on Labor Day weekend to see non-critical patients regardless of their ability to pay or insurance coverage, as well as to administer the much-needed tetanus vaccinations.

In the week following the storm, all Diagnostic Group locations opened and were fully functional, continuing to administer thousands of free tetanus vaccinations to all comers. Diagnostic Group teamed up with Harbor Hospice and Harbor Home Health, and even set up a satellite location at the Pinewood Fire Station in Hardin County.

Local residents, who showed up in droves to receive the tetanus vaccinations offered by the culturally diverse group of doctors, were witness to a prime example of different faiths and backgrounds coming together in a time of crisis for the greater good of their communities.

Dr. Arfeen sent heartfelt thanks.

“Thank you to everyone who made this possible,” said Arfeen. “We are honored to be able to serve Southeast Texas during these tough times. No words can express the gratitude we have for our first responders, city officials, volunteers, doctors, nurses and everyone who went above and beyond to help our community that has been devastated by this storm.”

For more information about the Diagnostic Group, visit the website at