Despite Frustration Over Long COVID-19 Vaccination Lines, Doctor Says There's Hope on Horizon

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The race to receive the COVID-19 vaccine continues to be a frustrating one for those who want their turn.

North Texans continue to speak out about the confusing and painstaking process, but there are signs of hope on the horizon.

Sylvia Villareal was desperate to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.

“Since last Thursday, a week and a half ago, I have lost six friends and a cousin to COVID,” she said. “I am in deep mourning over that and I don’t want to be a statistic. I want to live.”

What the 67-year-old was not expecting, was trouble finding an available shot and the long wait.

“The line was just so long,” she said. “It went all the way around the building and then again some more."

The Dallas resident and her husband tried “walking up” at Fair Park last Thursday but were turned away because only those 75 and older were supposed to be vaccinated.

Villareal said she was told that although those were the rules, people under 75 were being vaccinated.

The couple then went to a "walk-up" availability at Parkland Hospital, one of Dallas County's vaccine hubs, on Saturday morning.

After they waited in line for a few hours, Villareal said she was given an appointment and told to return in the evening.

“This was at 7. We didn’t get our vaccine until 10:30. We stood for another 3.5 hours,” she said. “We weren’t prepared. We didn’t think it was going to take that long, so I don’t know how other people did it. It’s too difficult. There has to be a better process.”

Villareal reported seeing older people struggle in the cold temperatures and long lines, some with walkers. She said she's also concerned about the lack of social distancing in the lines, although she was grateful everyone was wearing face coverings.

Frustrations have been reported throughout Dallas-Fort Worth.

The Collin-Fannin County Medical Society had to scramble to find vaccinations for all of their physicians who are not affiliated with hospital systems.

“I know it’s very frustrating. It was very frustrating for us as physicians, but if you kind of step back, the programs are actually going fairly well,” said Dr. DJ Verret, vice president of the Collin-Fannin County Medical Society.

Verret said he understands the challenges associated with the vaccine rollout.

“It truly is a monumental task,” he said. “We’re dealing with vaccines that have a supply chain requirement that we don’t normally have. They need to be super refrigerated, or at least frozen, which is normally not the case with vaccines. And we’re dealing with a limited supply as well, so the prioritization of the supply is very appropriate, but that also brings logistical complications in-and-of-itself.”

But he said he was hopeful.

The state is slated to receive its largest batch of COVID-19 vaccines from the federal government this week: more than 330,000 first doses.

Additional large-scale vaccination hubs are also opening, including nine more in North Texas.

And there is promising news on the vaccine-front.

“There are two additional vaccines that Dr. (Anthony) Fauci said this weekend should be available in weeks, not months,” he said. “And those vaccines will come with more of a normal supply chain, potentially one of them even as one dose.”

For those eager to join the lines of Texans receiving a COVID-19 vaccine, Villareal shares some tips.

“One has to look at the weather report,” she said. “They need to bring water. They need to take snacks… You better go to the restroom before you go.”

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