‘Use Every Single Dose': State Health Officials Urge Providers

In a meeting Friday, a health official in Texas said there's been "a lot of confusion" among providers about second doses

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Much has been made about the slow pace of the vaccine rollout.

Supply is a big problem.

But, another hang-up state health officials said in a virtual task force meeting Friday, is that some providers may have withheld their initial allotment thinking they had to use it for second doses, too.

“That is not the case. All second doses are being held back by CDC so that, at the appropriate time, those doses will automatically come to those providers,” said Imelda Garcia, associate commissioner for the Texas Department of State Health Services' Division for Laboratory and Infectious Disease Services.

“This is a message we're trying to reiterate across the state because their initial allotment, we want them to use every single one of those doses for all new people,” Garcia said.

Each vial contains between 5 and 12 doses.

Once a vial is punctured, it has a six-hour shelf life.

If that deadline gets close, “We don’t want to throw those extra doses in the trash. We have told people they just need to just go and grab somebody to make sure that we're using every possible dose,” said Garcia.

Right now, Texas is at the end of week four of vaccine distribution.

During Friday's meeting, health officials said Texans can expect to see an uptick in doses starting in week six when the state stops dedicating 121,000 vaccines each week to long-term care facilities under a federal partnership.

"The fact that those doses come back for us to push out to all of our providers across the state is a huge win for us,” said Garcia.

Out of hundreds of thousands of Texans who've received a COVID-19 vaccine, 99 had adverse reactions that weren't serious, five were serious, and one person died, officials said.

“This was an extremely frail individual,” said DSHS Commissioner John Hellerstedt, who cautioned against making any connection between the vaccine and the person’s cause of death.

Hellerstedt said there's no shortage of people ready to roll up sleeves, easing concern about vaccine hesitancy, as efforts to reach even more Texans ramp up.

The DSHS Task Force on Infectious Disease Preparedness and Response, which met Friday, plans to meet again in six weeks.

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

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