‘Demand Exceeds Supply,' Texas Hospital Association, Pharmacies Urge Patience on Vaccine Availability

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With the current limited supply of COVID-19 vaccines, the Texas Hospital Association said people seeking vaccines should be patient as entities work to inoculate as many willing people as they can.

Carrie Williams is a spokesperson for the Texas Hospital Association, which represents more than 450 hospitals in the state.

“The demand exceeds supply, and there are not doses available at every single hospital,” Williams told NBC 5 Wednesday. “In fact, there are still numerous hospitals mostly in the rural areas of Texas that have not been allocated vaccines yet.”

Just like how every region in Texas is different, Williams said so is every hospital and city. What is uniform is how people should approach accessibility at this point in time, Williams said.

“One, is to be sure to know if you’re eligible or not. Understand what that 1B population means. We also want people to do their research and find out where it may be available in their local areas,” she said. “Second, it is good to check the DSHS website to see where vaccine has been allocated across the state, but I would caution…yes, vaccine has been allocated but it does not mean it is available in those places. You’ve got to work with your regular doctor to figure that out first.”

Places like H-E-B in Hudson Oaks are waiting for their second shipment of vaccine doses. Pharmacist Dr. Dale Williams said they received 100 doses in their first allotment.

“It’s just been a madhouse. We’re taking phone call after phone call after phone from the 1A group, 1B, even essential workers on when they can get the vaccine,” Dr. Williams said. “It’s extremely difficult to tell them, we just don’t have any vaccine.”

Dr. Williams said initially, they created a waiting list for people in both groups 1A and 1B.

“We had to stop that waiting list just because we didn’t have the vaccine. Each day, it was growing by 100, 200 people. It just became unmanageable,” he said.

Once they receive more doses, he said they plan to move to an online scheduling tool through H-E-B’s website.

“Hopefully, that will help kind of stop all of the phone calls, help us have a breath before we take on this monumental task,” he said.

Both he and the Texas Hospital Association advise to not show up at places without appointments with the assumption that vaccines are available.

Debbie Garza, CEO of the Texas Pharmacy Association, shared the following tips on COVID-19 vaccine accessibility:

· Most pharmacies are offering vaccinations by appointment only.

·  Be patient. Pharmacies are receiving lots of calls from patients eager to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

· If you call your local pharmacy, please note that you do not necessarily need to speak to the pharmacist directly. Pharmacy staff will help you, and many pharmacies have recorded messages making people aware of their vaccine supply and status.

·  Vaccines are still very limited. Many pharmacies are maintaining a waiting list for when additional vaccine is available.

· If you are in Phase 1A or 1B, visit the state’s Texas COVID-19 Vaccine Provider Locations map found on the DSHS website to see if and where you might be able to get a vaccine.

· Be mindful that not all pharmacies have enough doses to vaccinate all those in Phase 1B at this time. Many pharmacies are still working through their waiting lists for health care providers and those in long-term care from Phase 1A.

· Receive your second vaccine dose from the same provider/facility as your first dose, since for now vaccine will be allocated accordingly.

According to the Garza, pharmacists are following the state’s priority populations to ensure they don’t waste any vaccine doses. While Texas is receiving vaccine weekly, not all pharmacies receive vaccine each week.

*Map locations are approximate, central locations for the city and are not meant to indicate where actual infected people live.

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