Brazos County: Thousands of COVID-19 vaccines are still sitting on local shelves

Published: Jan. 5, 2021 at 1:05 PM CST|Updated: Jan. 5, 2021 at 7:33 PM CST

BRYAN, Texas (KBTX) - Brazos County officials learned Tuesday only 3,000 of the more than 7,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses allocated to the county have been administered.

Brazos County Emergency Management updated the Brazos County Commissioners Court on vaccine distribution at Tuesday’s meeting. According to emergency managers, 7,075 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been distributed to the county, but only about 3,000 doses have been administered.

Officials would not release specific information about what organizations were in possession of the remaining doses.

Ponch Gonzalez, district coordinator with the Texas Division of Emergency Management says they’re working with local partners that received the doses to make sure they’re not sitting on the shelves.

“If we find out that they’re putting it on the shelf and not getting it out, where they’re scheduling for the next two or three weeks, that’s not acceptable,” said Gonzalez. “We’re going to reallocate that to a facility or a provider that can get those shots in the arm faster.”

Gonzales said DSHS can seize those doses and reallocate them to another provider who can administer shots faster. He told commissioners DSHS learned over the New Year holiday that a Brazos Valley provider wasn’t getting the vaccine out in a timely manner.

“After my call to the DSHS, we were able to find a provider locally that would accept them and get them the shots into the arms faster,” said Gonzalez. He didn’t say which provider was holding on to the vaccines.

Commissioners strongly objected to the slow rollout of vaccines in the county. Emergency managers pointed to bottlenecks at the state level and in the logistics of distributing vaccines as the sources of the problem. Gonzalez said the paperwork and monitoring necessary for a vaccination make individual appointments take around 30 minutes, and Brazos County’s swelling hospital numbers have made reallocating enough resources challenging for some providers.

Brazos County Commissioner Precinct 4 Irma Cauley says that while the state has a plan to distribute vaccines, she thinks that Brazos County is not benefitting from that plan.

“I want us to work more efficiently and effectively together,” said Cauley. “I hear the number 7,000 doses; I thought that was too small. However, if 3,000 is still on the shelf evidently I got to reassess that.”

Gonzales said that as they work to vaccinate the general population later this year, the county could set up large distribution sites that would accommodate large groups. Currently, vaccines are being handled by third parties and not the county.

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