For the second time in the past three weeks, Denton County has been left off the Texas COVID-19 vaccine allocation list, with last week’s shipment of over 25,000 first doses now sandwiched between weeks when the Public Health department has received only second doses for its clinics at Texas Motor Speedway.
The first week without a first-dose allocation from the state’s health department was the week of March 22, when Denton County Public Health received no vaccines after consistently being allocated the most of all of the state’s other registered hub providers. At that point, DCPH spokesperson Jennifer Rainey said the department had enough vaccines on hand to service its clinics for the week, adding that the department hoped it would be a one-time instance.
Last week, the county’s typical allocation — 25,740 Pfizer doses — returned as the county began vaccinating all Texas adults following eligibility expansions. While providers are constantly receiving second-dose shipments not listed on the state’s weekly allocation document, DCPH again went without a first-dose shipment this week.
At Tuesday’s Denton County Commissioners Court meeting, DCPH Director Matt Richardson did not address the lack of an allocation, which he also did not address the first time. Reached prior to the meeting, Rainey stated only that “DCPH had vaccine on hand to utilize for first and second doses this week.”
Rainey did not specify if DCPH is expecting a state allocation next week, or whether it will need a new allocation in order to host a full slate of vaccine clinics. Richardson did confirm at Tuesday’s meeting that the department will be sending out appointments for the upcoming week.
“We very much will be inviting new appointment slots for next week,” Richardson said. “We’re finished with our appointment slots for this week, so we have a full slate at TMS [Tuesday] through Friday.”
According to DCPH’s online vaccination tracker, the department has invited through spot No. 453,002 on its waitlist, with a total of 485,759 people registered. Those numbers are updated every Monday morning, meaning about 25,000 more Texas residents had registered for the county’s list since last week. Richardson stated about 2,000 more had signed up between Monday and Tuesday’s meeting.
Not everyone who registers for a vaccine from the county will stay on its waitlist, as many have received shots from other providers and then removed themselves from the county’s queue. Nonetheless, Richardson said the line currently stands at about 32,000 individuals who have yet to receive their first dose — a number that eclipses the department’s standard weekly allocation of 25,740 Pfizer shots.
Numerous providers across Denton County received shots this week, including several chain Tom Thumb and Walgreens pharmacies, according to the Texas Department of State Health Services. The largest allocations went to Carrollton Regional Medical Center (1,000 Johnson & Johnson doses) and Driven MD PLLC in Frisco (1,000 Moderna doses).
Richardson’s review of the pandemic itself was once again positive, with active virus cases continuing to decline and other important hospitalization and case metrics either stagnating or improving as well. He did, however, address the issue of COVID-19 variants.
The state’s most prominent variant, Richardson said, is one first discovered in the United Kingdom, formally referred to as the B.1.1.7 variant. It was first discovered in Denton in early February, though he said current vaccines have shown to be effective against it.
“The interesting part of that variant is it’s a little less virulent, so a little less deadly, which is good news,” Richardson said. “The bad news is it’s a little easier to catch. So one of the things we want to continue to do is underscore the need for vaccination.”