Health officials address luxury high-rise vaccine distribution

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Another round of COVID-19 vaccines are on the way to Harris County, and health officials said they expect 1.5 million doses to be distributed.

In the first few weeks of vaccine distribution across Harris County, doses were distributed mostly to hospitals and clinics. The Texas Vaccine Institute received 300 doses of the Moderna vaccine to provide vaccinations.

They typically provide vaccinations for school districts and long-term senior citizen care facilities.

"Before receiving the vaccines, we sent some proposals to nursing homes because our goal at this time is to protect people 65 and over," said clinic manager Pablo D'Angelo.

D'Angelo said most nursing homes reported back that they already had a provider.

Their vaccinations were distributed to three River Oaks high-rise condominiums that house a majority of senior citizens who are considered high risk. Those high-rise condominiums included Montabella, Bayou Bend Towers, and Lamar Towers.

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D'Angelo said these were serviced based on a first-come first-serve basis considering all individuals who are over the age of 65, despite location, are considered at risk.

As of Tuesday, the county's health department said a lack of vaccines has stopped them from distributing the doses in low-income neighborhoods. However, health officials said they do have a plan in place.

"We have health centers and multi-service centers that we'll be able to use when there's enough vaccines to bring people to those centers close to home," said Porfirio Villarreal with the Harris County Department of Public Health.

Villarreal assures that those in low-income neighborhoods will still be prioritized, but right now, they do not have enough vaccines.

"When more vaccines become available, then we'll be able to do additional sites at other communities that are disadvantaged," he said.

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