Demand expected to exceed COVID-19 vaccine supply as Texas expands eligibility

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- For high school teacher Catherine Johnson, sitting down for her second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine at Next Level Urgent Care Wednesday morning offered a sense of relief.

"It was really frustrating seeing everybody else getting vaccines before they opened it up to us," she said, referring to government guidance that gave vaccine eligibility to seniors and health care workers first.

On Wednesday, 400 people, mostly educators, were set to get their second doses at Next Level. That made the facility's CEO, Dr. Juliet Breeze, happy, but she remains unsatisfied.

"Right now, it's every Thursday and Friday [by the computer], and hoping we'll get some doses and work with whatever we're given by the state," she said.

While Next Level has been able to vaccinate approximately 15,000 people since the process began, it is not a major hub and has been struggling to get allocations from the state. With Texas opening up to allow everyone to register for vaccines starting on Monday, it's clear that many Texans will not be able to find an appointment.

SEE ALSO: All Texas adults will be eligible for COVID-19 vaccine next week, state announces

"I'm super excited," said Anne Pare, who plans to get her young adult children registered as soon as possible. "I have two adult children, 19 and 22, and I'm ready to get them scheduled and get their vaccine right away."

Pare, who teaches remotely from home, is internet savvy. She is prepared to search a number of websites to get her kids vaccinated.

But what should everyone else do?

In reality, much of what you are already doing. You can still register to get on waitlists with hub providers like Houston Methodist, Memorial Hermann Hospital, and Harris County Public Health. But again, you have to go on their individual websites to register.

The state of Texas is launching a toll free number for Texans without internet access. In addition, if you are over 80 years old, the state is now directing all providers to allow you to walk up and get a shot without an appointment.

"We would anticipate it would probably be May, before you can go to our website, click and find a slot," said Roberta Schwartz, the executive vice president of Houston Methodist, the area's largest vaccine hub provider. "We anticipate [until then] we're still reaching out to people on our list."

State data shows more than six million Texans have had their first dose and more than three million Texans are fully vaccinated. However, the supply of vaccines is not expected to exceed the demand for at least another month.

Meanwhile, Next Level said if it gets more doses, it wants to branch out and help those who may not be able to register for vaccines.

"We've offered to help the city of Houston go into underserved areas and even with mobile units to bring vaccines to people without access or information," said Breeze.

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