An East Dallas hospital has been scrambling to find people to vaccinate after dozens of patients who were scheduled to receive their second vaccination, either canceled or simply didn’t show up.
That left the hospital's limited vaccine supplies in danger of going to waste.
And it is a problem that hospital leaders fear other vaccination sites will soon find themselves in.
Although eager to vaccinate vulnerable North Texans, City Hospital at White Rock has found itself facing a domino effect of problems since administering 1,000 COVID-19 vaccines to eligible employees and Phase 1B residents on the hospital’s waiting list one month ago.
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The group received the Moderna vaccine, which calls for a second dose to be administered 28 days later.
“That’s been logistically difficult,” said Chief Medical Officer Dr. John Myers. “Sometimes it’s been hard to track people down.”
Want to Get on a Vaccine Waitlist?
County health departments have launched waitlists for adults 16 years old and over.
You can register to recieve the vaccination in Collin, Dallas, Denton and Tarrant counties. Links are below:
You do not need to be a resident of the county to register for a COVID-19 vaccine in that county -- registration is open to anyone in Texas. For those without internet access, Tarrant County is also taking registrations by phone at 817-248-6299. In Dallas County, call the DCHHS vaccine hotline at 1-855-IMMUNE9 (1-855-466-8639). In Denton County, call 940-349-2585.
For a more detailed breakdown of who is included in each priority group in Texas, see this page from the Texas DSHS.
In fact, about 150 people who received their first dose at the hospital, have either canceled their second dose appointments or were ‘no shows.’
“And that’s the thing that’s worrying us the most,” said Myers.
Troubling, too he said, because the hospital located in East Dallas, serves a large percentage of Latino and elderly people, who are especially susceptible to COVID-19.
The second dose is needed within six weeks of the first dose in order to build 95% immunity to the virus, he said. One dose provides about 50-60% immunity.
It is unclear whether someone who does not return for the second dose in six weeks would have to receive a new series of vaccinations against coronavirus.
The reason for the cancellations or failure to show up for their allotted time varies said Myers.
“They’re either healthcare workers and they’re busy,” he said. “Or they’re seniors or may have chronic medical conditions and so if you say: ‘You need to show up at 2 o’clock on Wednesday for your vaccine.’ That may not be logistically possible. Some of them may need to get a ride. So, we’ve been trying to work with people.”
Another problem has been that the sub-zero vials, each containing about 11 doses, have to be used within hours of opening.
“We don’t want any of this to go to waste,” said Myers. “I kind of call it ‘liquid gold.’”
When the hospital was faced with cancellations or people failing to show up for appointments, leaders managed to find eligible workers who had not already received their vaccines or pulled people on their waitlist, which has since been closed to new additions.
Myers regrets having to turn away people who have called the hospital in need of a second vaccine because they were not already on their list.
“Because we have [the vaccines] reserved for that initial group,” he said.
Challenging too, Myers adds, has been trying to receive more vaccine supplies from the state.
For now, the hospital is still trying to track down and reschedule 40 people to receive their second dose in time.
“It’s really important that people get that second dose because otherwise, it’s like flipping a coin if you’re immune or not,” said Myers. “Do not avoid the second dose. I’ve heard people say: ‘Well, I probably just need one dose.’ That’s not going to work.”
Myers said City Hospital will continue vaccinating those on their waiting list next week.
The hospital is also placing those still on their waitlist on Dallas County’s COVID-19 vaccine waitlist in an effort to get them vaccinated quickly.
There are about 6,000 people across Texas who have received their first COVID-19 vaccination but have not returned for their second dose in the time frame they were supposed to, he said.
*Map locations are approximate, central locations for the city and are not meant to indicate where actual infected people live.