Harris Health System will run out of COVID-19 vaccine Friday at noon

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ByTed Oberg via KTRK logo
Friday, January 22, 2021
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"This is no way to plan. This is no way to run a business, much less a healthcare business," said the CEO of the Harris Health System.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- A shortage of the COVID-19 vaccine has impacted the Harris County's public supplies of the doses, officials told ABC13. The safety net health group's CEO said Thursday afternoon they are cancelling hundreds of vaccination appointments at seven Harris Health locations.

Speaking with ABC13's Ted Oberg, Dr. Esmaeil Porsa said, "This is no way to plan. This is no way to run a business, much less a healthcare business. But unfortunately this is, this is a situation where you're dealing with."

Porsa said he has no idea when the state will send more and only finds out when he gets a tracking number that a new shipment is on its way. As of late Thursday afternoon, there was no such notice.

By Friday, health officials told ABC13's Ted Oberg they planned to transfer 1,000 doses of the vaccine to Harris Health's hospitals, including LBJ and Ben Taub, to keep them operating, but those doses were not yet on-hand.

WATCH: Harris Health System CEO says vaccine supply has been 'erratic'

"We are serving a segment of this population that has been, since the beginning, disproportionately impacted by COVID-19. That has been true throughout the pandemic. It is true today. These are the same patients that now are not going to be among the first who are going to be vaccinated because I don't have access to the vaccine ... They don't have any other options. That's the reason we exist. Our mission is to provide care to those in this community who have no other options. We are their only option."

READ MORE: LBJ and Ben Taub make staffing adjustments to deal with COVID-19 surge

Harris Health has vaccinated roughly 9,000 patients in Group 1B. None of them have received a second dose and Harris Health does not have their second doses on hand. They say they've been assured they will be sent.

Porsa said patients whose appointments are being cancelled will be contacted by Harris Health.

ABC13 asked Houston Health Authority Dr. David Persse about the Harris Health System's lack of supply and said it largely is due in part to those making the vaccine.

"It sounds like it's really the limit of manufacturer," explained Persse. "Moderna and Pfizer are both ramping up production, so that's going to take a little while. I don't know exactly when. I'm told it's six to eight weeks, maybe, that the amount of vaccines available to the United States as a whole, and therefore each individual state will increase."

The Texas State Department of State Health Services has told 13 Investigates in the past that supply issues are affecting vaccine distribution statewide. We called about this issue Thursday afternoon and will update when we get more information.

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