covid-19 vaccine

State Urges COVID-19 Vaccine Providers to Order More Doses

The Texas Department of State Health Services says many large vaccine providers have reduced requests for shots.

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In a letter to COVID-19 vaccine providers across Texas, the commissioner of the state health department urged providers to order additional shots as needed.

"As the COVID-19 vaccine supply increases and most Texans eager to be vaccinated have at least received their first shot, we have heard from many of you that weekly demand for vaccine appointments has decreased," Texas Department of State Health Service Commissioner Dr. John Hellerstedt wrote. "While there are still many Texans willing to be vaccinated, that demand is shifting from large, mass vaccination sites to smaller, more convenient sites where Texans routinely receive medical care."

He said there were about 280,000 more doses available to Texas providers for this week, which was more than what was requested.

The extra supply will go to the DSHS pharmacy in Austin, but the state is pushed providers to place an order by 5 p.m. Tuesday. They also asked providers for new strategies to reach additional people and offered to provide support in the way of technical help or personnel for providers who ask by Tuesday.

The state said people were going to pharmacies and doctors' offices to receive shots instead, but some local leaders said the downward trend in signups has to do with vaccine hesitancy.

Tarrant County Judge Glen Whitley said he's noticed a drop in the number of people signing up for vaccines at the county hubs.

"I think people have gotten comfortable. There's some that don't want to take the vaccine, some think, 'Golly, everything is slowing down, everything is coming to a close and maybe we don't need to get a vaccine,'" Whitley said. "I think it's any number of different reasons, but unfortunately, I really wish folks would really go ahead and take the vaccine so we don't see a spike like we have in some of the other states."

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Whitley said the county was talking with churches and reaching out to large groups that may have upcoming events to get more people vaccinated.

Last week, he floated the idea of paying people $50 to receive a vaccine, but said the county's district attorney looked into it and found federal law that prohibited the idea.

The thought is off the table for now.

Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins said the large hub at Fair Park has seen a decrease in people too.

He said he believes those who were anxious to get vaccinated already did so, and the remainder of people are either on the fence or taking their time.

"I liken it to people who always do something every year like spring cleaning -- they're going to do it, but haven't gotten to it yet," Jenkins said. "It's very important though that we do it very soon because we want to deny the virus with enough new hosts that can mutate outside of the protection of the vaccine."

The county plans to go to different places instead.

Jenkins said on May 16 they'll be at First Baptist Church in Dallas to offer vaccines to church members. He said they planned to open up a vaccine center in Deep Ellum and also target apartments.

"We're going to a lot of apartment complexes now, big places where we know folks aren't vaccinated yet make it as easy as possible," Jenkins said.

The drop in demand for shots is causing the county to scale back how long they're open each day at some of the large hubs.

Jenkins said this week the drive-thru site at Fair Park will only be open Monday, Wednesday (with extended hours), Friday and Saturday.

"All of them cost something to run, Fair Park costs a lot to run, and it doesn't work if only 500-600 people show up, you need 7,000-8,000," Jenkins said.

In Tarrant County, Whitley said they're, "not ready to shut down the hubs yet, but we're probably getting much closer."

He said as of now, times remained the same, but they could scale back hours in the future.

Whitley said there was a new site at Ridgmar Mall in Fort Worth, which they hope to open after hours for people who work late.

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