The Galveston County Health District isn’t getting any doses of COVID-19 vaccine this week, causing some appointment cancelations and angering some local leaders who say the state was prioritizing big cities over the suburbs and rural areas.
The University of Texas Medical Branch will run through its supply by today and has begun postponing appointments scheduled for after then.
Local providers won’t be resupplied because the state has redirected shipments of vaccines to “hubs” in major cities, officials said.
“People who are scheduled to receive the first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine will be able to do so through Tuesday,” a medical branch spokesman said. “After that, we unfortunately will have to postpone previously scheduled first shots. We will be contacting affected patients.”
The shortage will affect people scheduled to receive a first dose of either the Pfizer or Moderna COVID vaccines, officials said. People who were scheduled to receive a second dose, to complete their course of vaccinations, still will get their shots, the medical branch said.
The Galveston County Health District, which has to date received about 600 vaccinations, and offered them on a first-come, first-served basis to qualified recipients, didn’t receive any vaccine doses this week, district spokeswoman Ashley Tompkins said.
The news threw another wrench in the local distribution of the vaccines, which began about five weeks ago. To date, there has been no centralized process to find and schedule vaccinations, leaving many people trying and failing to get shots at local distribution sites.
Officials Monday announced the change to the state’s distribution plan. This week, more than 158,000 doses of vaccines will be sent to 28 vaccination hubs across the state, including three in Harris County.
The state, which controls the distribution of the vaccines it receives from the federal government, expects to begin sending more doses and creating more hubs in coming weeks, Gov. Greg Abbott said during a press conference Monday in Arlington.
“This structure that we now have created can be expanded and will be expanded very swiftly across the state,” Abbott said, according to The Texas Tribune. “The only limitation that we now face is the limitation of supply.
“The vaccination is not something that the state of Texas is in control of. The supply of the vaccination comes only from the federal government, and for them it comes largely from the manufacturing capabilities of the companies making the vaccine,” he said.
The news that Galveston County would lose out to bigger cities irked local leaders.
“This plan will significantly prioritize urban areas over suburban and rural communities,” Galveston County spokesman Zach Davidson statement. “For example, the state’s current plan provides Harris County an allotment of approximately one dose per 165 residents and Galveston County one dose per 855 residents.”
Officials are working on a plan to bring more doses to the county, Davidson said.
He encouraged people to call the Texas Department of State Health Services to request the agency direct more doses to the county.
More than 877,000 of the state’s 29 million residents had received a COVID vaccination as of Monday, Abbott said.