Cancer survivor finds vaccine elusive even as supply gradually ramps up at regional hubs

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Seeing people getting that coveted vaccine shot in the arm day after day makes 70-year-old Judy Thrasher wonder why she still can't get a shot.

"It is somewhat frustrating that someone my age, with immune-compromised issues, cannot get the vaccine," she said.

Thrasher is a leukemia survivor. Having undergone extensive treatment, she continues to follow up at MD Anderson Cancer Center. She has been checking in with her oncologist's office for weeks, and yet, still can not get an appointment.

"I had a stem cell transplant, and I would have thought that MD Anderson would have been one of the first to get the vaccine," said Thrasher.

Thrasher is not wrong. MD Anderson has received around 30,000 doses of the vaccine since the state of Texas began distributions in December. The hospital is not a public hub. Last week, hospital public relations told ABC13 that it is vaccinating staff and would begin vaccinating patients this past Saturday.

MD Anderson has not offered specific breakdowns of its vaccine distribution, and it is not required to by state allocation guidelines.

Meanwhile, the six vaccine hubs in Harris County continue to operate publicly accessible vaccine sites, even with a few hiccups.

Methodist Hospital, the largest hub operator in the Greater Houston region, said it's set to vaccinate 50,000 people this week. Of those, 20,000 are second doses. The rest will be divided up among waiting lists in Montgomery, Harris, and Fort Bend counties.

"We got a special allocation for Fort Bend and Montgomery County this week because those counties had been under allocated," said Roberta Schwartz, the executive vice president of Methodist Hospital.

You can get more information on Methodist's waitlist here.

"When you sign up, you go on a waitlist," explained Schwartz. "We make sure you're in the age group, and you qualify. In addition, this week, we're focusing on those particular counties."

This week, the city of Houston Health Department, Harris County Public Health, Baylor St. Luke's, and Memorial Hermann continue to vaccinate through their waiting lists and occasionally, new public portals.

The city of Houston did have some computer glitches last week that left as least a few people confused.

"I just kept asking her and she said, 'Are you sure?'" said Lisa Sendelbach, who got a city of Houston vaccine appointment and drove to the Delmar Stadium site. "Of course, when I got there, they asked for my cell phone, and it wasn't on, and my heart started racing."

Sendelbach was turned away from the vaccine site. She was upset, thinking she already had a vaccine appointment. On Monday, the city of Houston Health Department said there was a slight computer mismatch that has since been fixed.

Both the city and Harris County Public Health plan to vaccinate around 9,000 people this week.

Follow Miya Shay on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Copyright © 2021 KTRK-TV. All Rights Reserved.