Houston-area communities share concerns about COVID-19 vaccine distribution

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- With the first COVID-19 vaccine drive-thru opening in Houston on Thursday, ABC13 wanted to know how the distribution plans are working out in other area counties not designated as hubs by the state.

All 13,000 appointments for a vaccine were full at NRG park as Memorial Hermann began administering the first dose in their drive-thru clinic. It will continue through Sunday. But note, that you must have an appointment. You cannot just show up because you will not receive a shot.

This clinic is the latest to open up in the Houston area as health officials try to coordinate mass vaccination with a very limited supply, which has been frustrating for people who have been trying to get an appointment.

The state's Department of Health and Human Services says they had about 200,000 doses of the vaccine to distribute throughout the state this week. Texas's population is around 29 million.

The plan with those doses was to distribute to what they call "hub" cities or counties, such as Houston and Harris County, and then have the surrounding communities commute to get the shot.

But we spoke with officials from Brazoria and Waller Counties who says that is simply not realistic for people who live in less populated areas.

"If you dial this back to where we were in March or April of last year... there weren't enough testing kits... there wasn't enough PPE, we're in that same boat right now. There's not enough vaccine," said Brazoria County Judge Matt Sebesta. "Where we were with those commodities back then, the commodity now is vaccine, and there's not enough of it for the demand."

"One of the major challenges is that, you know, Waller County is a smaller county. We still have 50,000 people. But we have three providers, and a lot of these providers are pharmacies. And so these pharmacists have their daily routines. They're supplying medication, they're dealing with customers. And on top of that, it's compounded by having the vaccine process. So that's a little challenging for those folks," said Brian Cantrell with the Waller County Office of Emergency Management.

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