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Local hospitals still working through Phase 1A of COVID-19 vaccine distribution

Hospital officials say they hope to get to 1B in the next few weeks.
Published: Dec. 31, 2020 at 3:47 PM CST
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BRYAN, Texas (KBTX) - Both Baylor Scott & White Health and St. Joseph Health say they are still working through Phase 1A of the state’s COVID-19 vaccination plan which includes vaccinations for first responders, frontline healthcare workers, and residents of long-term care facilities.

Earlier this week, the Texas Department of State Health Services sent out a release saying that all vaccinations should move on to Phase 1B which includes people 65 and older or with certain medical conditions, but local hospitals say, because of vaccine availability in town, they are not yet ready to move on.

Clint Cheng, Chief Medical Officer for the St. Joseph Medical Group, said a lot of this has to do with when our community was given access to the first shipments of a vaccine.

“The messaging that you’re hearing from DSHS about moving to phase 1B now, can’t be applied across every community across Texas, because situations are different,” said Cheng.

“Some communities did receive an early shipment of the vaccine, and more than they actually needed for their healthcare workers, so they were able to move more quickly into a phase 1B. We received them later, so we are continuing to vaccinate 1A right now, and we are hoping to get to wanna be within the coming weeks.”

Baylor Scott & White Health says they, too, are still focusing on getting all their employees vaccinated. In a statement, they said:

Baylor Scott & White Health received its first shipment of the Pfizer vaccine a couple of weeks ago, and St. Joseph Health received their shipments of the Moderna Vaccine last week. Cheng adds, although they have only been going through vaccinations for a week, they have been going well.

“There have been no major allergic reactions. The vaccine is very safe, however, we have seen a lot of people have expected side effects from the vaccine but this isn’t out of the ordinary, and if anything, it means that our bodies are building our immunity with the vaccine,” said Cheng.

Phase 1A of vaccine distribution includes residents of long-term care facilities and front-line health care workers. Phase 1B expands to include more vulnerable people in our community. Click here to learn more about Phase 1B.

The Texas Department of State Health Services has also created a map that helps people locate a vaccine provider. It includes a disclaimer that people should call the provider directly to find out how they are administering the vaccine. You can access the map here.

On Tuesday, Governor Greg Abbott urged providers to move quickly on getting the vaccines distributed. He wrote on Twitter: “A significant portion of vaccines distributed across Texas might be sitting on hospital shelves as opposed to being given to vulnerable Texans The state urges vaccine providers to quickly provide all shots. We get plenty more each week.”

It is expected that about a third of people who receive the first dose of the Moderna vaccine will experience side effects like headache, upset stomach, fatigue, low fevers, and chills that last a couple of days and resolve on their own. Cheng says about two-thirds of people could experience those side effects after the second dose.

“It’s important that anyone who gets a vaccine understands that those are common expected side effects and they’re not dangerous and they were not a reason to not get a second dose,” said Cheng.

Once local hospitals are ready to move into 1B, which is expected in the next few weeks, health officials say there are a few logistics that need to be worked out.

“The number of people eligible for Phase 1B is significantly greater than the clinical guidelines, being that potentially one-third to one-half of patients could be eligible for this vaccine,” said Cheng. “So that includes anyone over the age of 65, anyone who has a heart condition, COPD, diabetes, kidney issues, cancer, things like that. Then in addition to that, a large group is going to be anyone over the age of 18, for the Moderna vaccine, who has a BMI of 30 or higher. So given that one-third of the adult population in Texas meets that BMI, that’s a large number of people.”

Both Baylor Scott & White Health and St. Joseph Health say they are working through the logistics of how this will work. In a statement, Baylor Scott & White Health said:

Cheng says St. Joseph’s is working on ways to contact patients and keep them updated as well.

“We are developing plans to get the vaccine in an orderly and safe fashion. So once we are able to provide a vaccine for patients in the coming weeks, we will be reaching out to them to let them know. We have contact information for most, so it will be by email or phone,” said Cheng.

NEWS RELEASE BY TEXAS DEPARTMENT OF STATE HEALTH SERVICES ON DECEMBER 28:

The Texas Department of State Health Services is instructing the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to ship COVID-19 vaccine to more than 350 providers in 94 Texas counties over the next week. The CDC will deliver 175,100 doses of the vaccine manufactured by Moderna and 81,900 doses of the Pfizer vaccine directly to Texas providers.

An additional 121,875 doses of the Pfizer vaccine will go to the federal Pharmacy Partnership for Long-Term Care Program. Vaccinations under the program started in Texas today and, according to the CDC, will serve staff and residents at more than 300 long-term-care facilities in the first week.

Texas has been allocated about 1.2 million doses through the first three weeks of vaccine distribution, and vaccine will have reached providers in a total of 199 counties by the end of the week. DSHS has posted a vaccine provider location map that will be updated weekly after allocated doses have shipped to providers. A list of providers that will be receiving vaccine this week is available at https://www.dshs.texas.gov/news/updates/COVIDVaccineAllocation-Week3.pdf.

DSHS encourages providers to rapidly vaccinate priority populations against COVID-19 and promptly report doses administered in ImmTrac2, the state’s immunization registry. Additional allocations of vaccine will be received each week.

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