In accordance with Texas’ COVID-19 vaccination timeline, Denton County health providers receiving vaccine shipments are now beginning to vaccinate the at-risk public, although stock remains limited.
Outlined in Phase 1B of its vaccine plan, the state defines at-risk people as anyone over 65, or anyone over 16 who has a chronic medical condition, such as cancer or heart disease, or who is pregnant. Denton County Public Health spokesperson Jennifer Rainey said that going forward, all of the county’s health providers who receive vaccines will include that 1B group.
After receiving an initial shipment of 1,000 doses of Moderna’s vaccine, DCPH held its first vaccine clinic Monday for emergency medical service providers and home health care workers, part of the state’s 1A group. It received another 100 vaccines Tuesday and now has about 450, which Rainey said will be used at another clinic Monday for both the 1A and 1B group.
After the county made its announcement about vaccines on social media Wednesday afternoon, many residents tried to call to register to get a vaccine but either had difficulties doing so or were unable to get through the system at all.
For DCPH and other providers, stock is the major limiting factor: Rainey said registration is going quickly for next week’s clinic and that it expects all 450 vaccines to be used. While the department expects more shipments for future clinics, details are still up in the air.
“We hope to get them — we don’t have a shipping notification or an email or anything,” Rainey said. “We see the same list that everybody else sees.”
Rainey suggested that anyone who qualifies under the at-risk definition contact their doctor, pharmacy or other health care provider for more information on when they will be eligible to receive the vaccine. She said the length of the process can vary greatly based on each provider’s stock and other factors, and added that DCPH believes vaccine production is increasing and hopes distribution matches that going forward.
Other local health providers who have, or will receive, vaccines as part of the state’s Week 3 allocation include the Denton State Supported Living Center with 400, Baylor Scott & White Institute for Rehabilitation with 300 and Medical City Denton with 200. Multiple Kroger and Tom Thumb pharmacies also received shipments of 100 each, with the exception of the Loop 288 Kroger in Denton, which received 200.
Texas Health and Human Services spokesperson Kelli Weldon stated DSSLC’s 400 vaccines will be used for front-line health care staff, and that the center will provide vaccines to other staff and residents as it receives more.
“This is very important,” Jana Boone, a pharmacist at the Denton center, said in a video released by THHS. “It’s going to save lives. It’s going to help us get back to life as we knew it. It’s going to stop this pandemic if we can get people to take this.”
DSSLC was an early hot spot as the virus began to spread, needing additional support and resources in late March when dozens of residents were sick. The center houses people with intellectual and developmental disabilities who have behavioral problems or are medically fragile, making managing an outbreak more difficult.
The next steps in the state’s vaccine timeline, Rainey said, are unclear. Currently, the Texas Department of State Health Services lists the next steps after 1B as 1C and 2, and states who will be included in those two groups is “under consideration.” Additionally, those next steps will not be taken until the state reaches “additional supply” — currently, it’s still at the limited supply phase.
“Spring 2021 is the best estimate of when vaccine will be available for the general public, but that may change,” the department’s official website states. “It depends on vaccine production and how quickly other vaccines become available.”