DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) — Texas’ top health official, Dr. John Hellerstedt, sent a message to health care providers Tuesday labelled “urgent”.
It continued, “All providers that have received COVID-19 vaccine must immediately vaccinate healthcare workers, Texans over the age of 65, and people with medical conditions that put them at greater risk… No vaccine should be kept in reserve.”
Concern is growing that much of the vaccine could be sitting unused.
The Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) website shows only one-quarter of the doses received have been administered. And, yet for many who qualify, the vaccine hasn’t been easy to find.
“I have not been able to find anyone who actually has the vaccine,” said Michael Calder, a resident in Allen, who said he qualifies under the state’s criteria.
The DSHS website recommends anyone who qualifies for vaccination, a group which includes more than 8 million Texans, look up providers who’ve received the vaccine on an interactive map and call them.
Calder did just that, phoning three locations near his home. Two said they’d run out of doses — the third told him it was only vaccinating employees.
“It’s extremely important. I don’t want to get sick,” he said. “I don’t want to be the last person to get sick and die, while a vaccine is being distributed already.”
Several pharmacists told CBS 11 News they were being swamped with phone calls from people looking for the vaccine. Most had run out, after giving their doses to healthcare workers or long term care residents, the two groups given top priority.
“I still had to turn away healthcare workers because we ran out…,” explained Beau Heskes, a pharmacist at SandsRx in Wylie.
Heskes says he’s still getting calls from healthcare workers wanting to be vaccinated.
After reading the message from DSHS commissioner Hellerstedt, Heskes said he’ll now also offer the shot to others who qualify, when he gets more doses. “I don’t know when I’ll get more,” he said “The state will allocate us the vaccine when… when it’s appropriate.”
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