AUSTIN, Texas — On Monday, the Texas Department of State Health Services announced people in Phase 1B could begin receiving doses of the COVID-19 vaccine.
But that announcement came with a lot of confusion and frustration from people trying to find a provider willing to vaccinate them.
On its website, the DSHS recommends people 65 and older or 16 and older with a chronic medical condition call vaccine providers in their area to find out whether they have any available doses.
KVUE heard from multiple viewers who said they called multiple vaccine providers in the Austin area only to find out they still were only vaccinating people in Phase 1A, like health care workers.
The 38th Street Pharmacy in Central Austin was one of the vaccine providers people called Tuesday. Its owner, Jeffrey Warnken, said they had received between 300 to 400 calls from people asking about vaccine availability.
He said he's more than willing to begin vaccinating people in Phase 1B, but most of the allocation of Moderna vaccines his pharmacy received Monday morning was already reserved for health care workers. He plans to administer about 200 doses by Thursday.
"We did our due diligence to get people scheduled, and they are showing up. I mean, they definitely want the vaccine. And, so, they're showing up all day [Monday], all day [Tuesday]," Warnken said. "I have people calling and they're saying, 'Oh, you have the vaccine.' Well, we do, but we only have so many doses, so I'm putting them on a waiting list."
Warnken estimates between 350 to 500 people were added to his pharmacy's waitlist Tuesday. He's not sure when he'll receive more doses, but he said he's ready for when he does.
"If I get more, if the state sends me 200 more or 500 more, I'll make sure people get [them] ... I'll start calling them. At least I have them on a list," he said.
To clear up some confusion between vaccine providers and people in Phase 1B, DSHS Commissioner Dr. John Hellerstedt released the following statement Tuesday afternoon:
“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 a greater risk of severe disease or death from COVID-19. No vaccine should be kept in reserve.”
KVUE spoke with several hospital groups in the Austin area, along with H-E-B, about their plans to administer the vaccine to people in Phase 1B. Below are some of their responses.
"Ascension Seton has received allotments of both the Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines, and to date, Ascension Texas has vaccinated more than 10,000 frontline caregivers, support staff, and providers. Ascension Seton continues administration for onsite staff who signed up for vaccinations and was recently able to begin offering the vaccine to independent frontline providers and first responders who are among the first group eligible to receive the vaccine, in accordance with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines.
"Ascension Seton continues to receive additional allotments of the COVID-19 vaccine and will continue with the comprehensive vaccine administration plan consistent with federal and state guidance. At this time, Ascension Seton remains focused on vaccinating healthcare staff and first responders, and will expand to the community, including those in group 1B, in the coming weeks when the vaccine supply allows. Ascension Seton will announce publicly and share more details when the healthcare system moves to the next phase of vaccination. Ascension Seton continues to use all COVID-19 vaccines provided and does not hold any COVID-19 vaccines in reserve."
St. David's HealthCare:
"Per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), St. David's HealthCare facilities with the COVID-19 vaccine are currently administering COVID-19 vaccinations to our healthcare workers, including hospital employees and medical staff physicians. While we acknowledge the state has opened eligibility for adults over 65 and those with specific chronic conditions over age 16 to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, our current vaccine supply only allows for vaccinations for our employees and doctors at this time. We are proactively engaged in the safe management of COVID-19, and the health and safety of our patients, caregivers and communities remain our top priorities. If we receive additional vaccine resources that allow our facilities to vaccinate beyond employees and doctors, we will consider if it's feasible for us to serve as vaccination sites for the public."
In a statement on Wednesday, Baylor Scott & White said it is still vaccinating health care workers:
"We are continuing to immunize our health care workers, as the health of our team members is critical to our ability to continue delivering safe care in the communities we serve. In most cases, we are distributing the doses we receive within hours of securing the shipment.
"Immediately after our health care workers are vaccinated, we will begin immunizing priority patients and community members. We are encouraging the public to sign up for vaccine updates via this website:
“H-E-B will follow the distribution schedule set by the government, and any updates will be communicated with customers via our Pharmacy page on heb.com and H-E-B Newsroom. During this first phase (1A) of Covid-19 vaccine rollout, some H-E-B pharmacies have received the Moderna vaccine to help vaccinate our community healthcare providers. Once the need is met within Phase 1A, vaccinations will be given to those who fall into Phase 1B. An appointment must be scheduled to receive the Covid-19 vaccine. Our pharmacies will not accept walk-ins.”
The company also tweeted the following statement on Wednesday:
"There is some confusion based on updates from TX Dept of State Health Services. While some providers may be offering it to those in 1B, we are not yet in this phase as we are still receiving shipments. We will continue to offer vaccine to the healthcare worker group at this time."
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