The Texas Department of State Health Services says some healthcare workers are growing frustrated since they’re not affiliated with large institutions to receive the vaccine for coronavirus. However, that doesn’t mean that can’t access a vaccine elsewhere.
For example, pharmacies like those at HEB and Randall’s grocery stores have received the vaccine and say their first priority is healthcare workers. However, the state recently issued guidelines to continue vaccinating even if it means working down the list of prioritized patients.
Guidance on Vaccinating Phase 1A and 1B Populations
“As COVID-19 vaccine begins to be distributed more widely in Texas, the opportunity to vaccinate additional individuals will increase. The Expert Vaccine Allocation Panel (EVAP) and Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) encourage vaccine providers to continue to prioritize limited supplies of vaccine for the Phase 1A populations of front-line health care workers and residents of long-term care facilities. In the interest of public health and providing maximum protection in Texas communities, providers should seek opportunities to utilize any remaining doses to vaccinate other at-risk populations in their area.
“In recognition of the challenges and difficult decisions, providers must make in determining how to use vaccine in an efficient and responsible way, EVAP and DSHS encourage the following:
“• Hospitals and other large providers that have received COVID-19 vaccine should look for ways to vaccinate other health care workers in their community and the surrounding area. Some healthcare workers who work in smaller settings and are not affiliated with a large institution are reporting difficulty in accessing vaccine. Hospitals and other large providers may be in a unique position to assist in this unprecedented situation by serving as community vaccinators for health care workers in Phase 1A.
“• In situations where providers have reached all readily available and willing people in Phase 1A, they should begin to vaccinate people in Phase 1B, those age 65 and older or with high-risk medical conditions. Continue to prioritize Phase 1A as people in that group present. This will allow providers to appropriately prioritize while maximizing the number of people vaccinated. DSHS and EVAP trust vaccine providers to expedite the use of this precious resource in the fight against COVID-19, just as we count on all Texans to work together to ensure these early supplies of vaccine go to the people who need it most,” according to a post from Dec 24, 2020, on the DSHS website.
Plus, large institutions with enough vaccines for their own employees should expand to cover other frontline workers.
Houston Health Authority Dr. David Persse said most importantly, everyone who wants a vaccine can eventually have one, just be patient.
“Those who got vaccine told the state who they intended to give it to and they, you know, the state will be watching that. I hear that there’s frustration because people are hearing stories (and we’re hearing them) of people who didn’t seem like they really met the criteria, but they got it from somebody and that, that adds some frustration. So, I would make the appeal to those that have the vaccine and who are giving the vaccine. You really need to stick to the priorities that the state has set going forward. Having said that, the state also said that if it looks like you’re running out of people in the top, the top tier, quickly move on to the second tier,” Dr. Persse said.