Texas will get about 200,000 more doses of the COVID-19 vaccine next week, most of them earmarked for large “vaccination hubs” capable of vaccinating up to 100,000 people — helping streamline distribution as the number of eligible Texans grows, state officials said Thursday.
“These vaccination hubs will provide people in those priority populations with identifiable sites where vaccination is occurring and a simpler way to sign-up for an appointment with each provider,” the Texas Department of State Health Services said in a written statement.
Officials warned that even after the next shipment brings the state’s total allotment to 1.7 million since mid-December, the state is still far short of what it needs to vaccinate the millions of Texans currently eligible for the vaccine and that “it will take time” for supply to catch up with demand.
Nearly 1.4 million doses had been shipped by the end of the day Wednesday, according to state numbers. The state does not publicly report how many doses providers have received. At least 475,000 Texans have received the first dose of the vaccine, and more than 6,500 have been fully inoculated with the required two doses, according to the state data, although those numbers lag behind real time because of reporting delays.
A list of the large providers identified as hubs will be released later in the week, the agency said.
Most of next week’s allotment will go to them, but shipments will also go to some smaller providers, the agency said.
The larger hubs will be required to set up registration phone numbers and websites and to concentrate their efforts on hard-hit populations in their surrounding areas, the agency said. They will be directed to continue vaccinating health care workers, people who are 65 and older, and those with medical conditions that increase their risk.
The news comes as eligible Texans across the state scramble for answers and access to the vaccine after state officials announced in late December that hospitals should start vaccinating people who are elderly and those with underlying conditions, a group known as 1B, who did not qualify in the first round of shots reserved for health care workers and residents of nursing homes and long-term care facilities, a group known as 1A, if they run out of 1A people who want the shot.
The 1A group includes an estimated 1.9 million people in Texas. The 1B group has an estimated 8 million people, although state officials said an undetermined number of people fall under both groups.