The lack of a statewide distribution plan or a phone number for people to call to make appointments has created a lot of questions.
ABC13 has analyzed the data to answer some of your questions below. The full Texas DSHS COVID-19 vaccine website can be found on the state's dashboard.
Who is eligible for COVID-19 vaccines right now?
According to the state of Texas, vaccine distribution has been broken down into phases. Phase 1A includes medical workers and those living in nursing homes, and Phase 1B includes anyone who is 65 and older, or 16 and older with a chronic medical condition such as cancer, COPD, heart conditions, organ transplant, obesity, pregnancy, sickle cell disease and type 2 diabetes.
I qualify for the vaccine! Can I get it now?
Possibly. There are not enough doses for everyone who qualifies. The state pivoted to a hub-based system for vaccines. That means most vaccines are going to public health agencies and large hospitals, which then host public vaccination clinics.
How can I try to get the vaccine?
You need to focus on the major hubs. Most of the hubs will open an online portal for vaccine appointments once a week. However, since there is not a statewide system, you must keep tabs on each hub individually. That could be time consuming and confusing. The system is expected to ease up as supplies increase.
What are the hubs?
Here are the hubs in the the Greater Houston Region along with their websites for you to explore.
- The city of Houston also encourages you to sign up for alerts.
- You can also find more information on the Harris County Public Health Vaccine Reservation website.
Are there other locations with vaccines?
ABC13 has curated the state database to all facilities that received vaccines in Harris, Fort Bend, and Galveston Counties. You can find the list here. You can search through and try to call any of the providers. Some may have doses.
I still can not get an appointment, and I qualify. What else can I do?
You should call and speak to your private doctor, if you have one, to make sure they know you are interested. If you go to a local clinic, make sure your latest contact information is with your community clinic. Many clinics are working with larger providers and could get doses in the coming weeks.
State health officials do estimate it will take several months for the majority of Texans to locate immunization doses.
Every time I call a location, they tell me they are only taking established patients first. Is that allowed?
The state of Texas guidance focuses on categories of people who should be prioritized for vaccines. However, it has left the actual distribution of vaccines to each provider. Therefore, each hospital and doctors clinics can create its own criteria for distributing vaccines. Since there is not enough vaccines for everyone, almost all hospitals and medical offices are vaccinating their established patients first. ABC13 has asked state officials to clarify this issue.
I got my first dose, where should I go to get my second dose?
You should go back to the location where you got your first dose to get your second dose. Even though the state has converted to a hub system, the locations where you got your first doses will still get shipped second doses.
I'm almost at the deadline for my second dose, what if my second dose is late?
The CDC guidance gives some leeway for the timing of the second dose. While you should not get a second dose before the suggested second dose, medical experts tell ABC13 that it is okay if your second dose lags a little bit. The research is not yet thorough on how long you can wait, but experts generally agree that getting the second dose a week or two late will not have any negative implications.
I go to Legacy Community Health, will I get a vaccine?
Legacy Community Health has received approximately some doses from the state of Texas. It is currently vaccinating Phase 1A and 1B. It is notifying qualifying patients. Please contact your specific doctor.
What about CVS & Walgreens?
CVS and Walgreens are currently participating in the vaccination of nursing home residents as part of a federal plan. At this point, they are not administering vaccines to the general public, but you should continue checking.
Do grocery stores like Kroger, Randalls, and H-E-B have vaccines?
Kroger, Randalls, and H-E-B pharmacies do have vaccines, but availability is limited.
In the beginning, H-E-B each Houston area HEB pharmacy received approximately 100 doses of the vaccine. The same was true for Randalls and Kroger. However, since the state has moved to a hub system, these grocery stores have not gotten any additional doses. If you got your first dose at a grocery store pharmacy, you should go back to the store for the second dose.
I see on the list eye centers, orthopedic doctors, and dermatology offices with doses. Are those available?
Any medical provider could apply to be a vaccine distributor, including specialty physicians. Because there is no central state database, you would have to contact each specialty physician's office directly to see if they have doses available. However, since the state has moved to a hub system, most of these facilities have not received any additional doses.
I do not qualify, but I want a vaccine, what can I do?
You can register for one of several ongoing clinical trials, or you can wait. With a new administration and many changes ongoing relating to the vaccine rollout, it's likely that more people will be eligible for vaccines soon. It will likely take several months for younger, healthier adults to be eligible for vaccinations.
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