Santa Fe resident Kelly Abshire was relieved to get a COVID-19 shot Monday at a University of Texas Medical Branch clinic in Angleton. She was equally, maybe even more, happy that her father, William Smith, 76, was able to get one alongside her.
Her mother, Judy Smith, 78, was scheduled to join them among the vaccinated Wednesday.
But on Monday afternoon, Abshire learned her mother’s vaccination, along with more than 6,100 others scheduled for Galveston County residents, had been canceled.
The news brought Abshire to tears.
“If I knew that was going to happen, I would have given my mother my vaccine,” Abshire, who is 56 but has a qualifying health condition, said. “I could literally cry right now, because I’m so afraid for my mother. I was so excited when she got her appointment, and now I’m back here in the fear stage. It’s such a horrible feeling for her.”
More than 6,000 people in Galveston County received phone calls, text messages or emails Monday and Tuesday informing them that long-awaited COVID-19 vaccination appointments had been indefinitely postponed, the University of Texas Medical Branch confirmed Tuesday.
The medical branch said the cancellations happened because the Texas Department of State Health Services didn’t send a new allocation of vaccines to its hospitals this week.
The state instead sent a large number of shots to vaccination hubs in larger cities, including Houston.
The medical branch had requested a larger number of vaccine doses last week and had scheduled thousands of appointments, some of them into February, in anticipation it would continue to receive more doses in coming weeks and months.
Todd Trlicek, of Friendswood, was scheduled to get a vaccination Wednesday morning. Trlicek, a leukemia survivor, said he was disappointed to learn that his appointment had been canceled just hours before it was supposed to happen.
“I was looking forward to it,” Trlicek said, adding it had been easy for him to sign up through the medical branch, although he had to agree to drive 45 minutes to Angleton for his appointment.
Trlicek anticipated he’d have to wait until the medical branch calls him to reschedule the appointment, he said.
“I got online last night and looked around for who had it, and it’s very confusing to try to track down who has it,” Trlicek said. “I’ll probably wait for UTMB. Hopefully, they’re going to get some more.”
County officials and medical branch officials have appealed to the state for more vaccines, but no new shipments were announced Tuesday.
The cancellations have left people in the county once again searching for places to schedule a shot. The state’s announcement said the latest vaccine shipments would go to the Houston Health Department, Harris County Public Health and the Houston Methodist system.
No rules prevent Galveston County residents from scheduling vaccinations through any of those three sites, officials said. As of Tuesday, however, none of the three was accepting reservations.
A notice on the Houston Health Department site said it had scheduled its vaccine appointments through the end of January. Houston Methodist’s website said it was “working with the state to finalize plans about the vaccine hub for the at-risk public.”
“We will be limited by vaccine supply,” the hospital’s site said.
The state health department on Tuesday afternoon published a Facebook post, directing people to “sign up with a vaccination hub” and directing them to websites for some of the designated sites around Texas.
But links on the state’s website to providers in Harris County lead to pages that don’t provide ways to sign up for vaccinations.