Houston Health Department responds to concern over 2nd vaccine doses

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Musician Grace Granata got her first COVID-19 vaccine weeks ago, but still, she remains anxious.

"I'm a little nervous that I don't have an appointment to get the second vaccine," she said.

She got her Moderna shot on Jan. 3 at the city's second mass vaccine event inside the Bayou City Event Center.

Her next shot is due Sunday, Jan. 31.

"I want to know that I'm going to get it and that the first one was not in vain," she told Eyewitness News as she explained the time-consuming work to book the appointment. "I tried 40 times, and I finally got an appointment."

And then, Granata said she spent another 90 minutes on hold. The Houston Health Department said they do have vaccines in stock for second doses.

The department's calling centers are reaching out, one at a time, to schedule those second appointments.

They are asking for patience as the CDC issues new guidance, saying you can wait up to 42 days between the first and second dose.

Now, as COVID-19 variants from the U.K. and South Africa are being discovered in the U.S., Dr. Peter Hotez, who's been a leader in the fight against the virus in the Houston area, says distributing the vaccine must be ramped up, and we should be prepared for much more spread, and likely more death.

"The thinking is this is more like the eye of the hurricane, and we know about eyes of the hurricane here in Houston, and what that means... the other side is coming and the other side is the U.K. and South African variant. So things are really going to rev up, we think, in the coming months," he said.

Getting the second dose, Hotez says, is vital to full protection, but he urges anyone who is vaccinated to continue wearing a mask, washing your hands and watching your distance.

"If you only got a single dose of the vaccine, this is not a time to go to restaurants and bars and that sort of thing. Don't think you're partially protected. We're seeing people get really sick even after a single dose who've gotten exposed to the virus," said Hotez.

If you do not have an appointment for your second dose, 48 hours before it is due, only then the Houston Health Department says you can call them at 832-393-4220 and leave a message.

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