Health expert: COVID-19 vaccine could be available to general public in May or June

GALVESTON, Texas (KTRK) -- The vaccine rollout hasn't been easy. Just last week, Harris County Health didn't get an allotment it was promised, causing them to cancel hundreds of vaccinations. Earlier in the month of January, UTMB in Galveston had to cancel appointments too.

"The challenge right now is getting enough supply," said Dr. David Lakey, M.D., vice-chair of Health Affairs and chief medical officer at the University of Texas System.

Lakey is a member of the state's Vaccine Allocation Panel. The panel is a group of people from across the state, including medical experts and legislators. They're tasked with making recommendations on vaccine allocation and distribution.

SEE ALSO: Harris County hopes to get 30K COVID-19 vaccine doses a week

Lakey said last week there were shipment issues at places statewide. On top of that, he said places administering the vaccines need to know earlier how many vaccines they're going to get so they can plan for it.

"Having some visibility on how much vaccine we're going to get, two, three weeks out, because right now the folks at the health department are getting their notification of how much they are going to receive in a very short timeline on when they need to allocate it, and that caused disruptions," said Lakey.

Getting more vaccine is key. People 65 and over, and those 16 and up with certain health conditions, are eligible to get it as part of group 1B. There are about 10 million people in that group so it will take some time to vaccinate everyone.

As for who could get it next, Lakey said the panel has had some conversations about it but they haven't determined anything yet. It's unclear if occupation would be a factor.

"If the data shows us that other occupations are at increased risk or they're contributing to the spread of the virus or there's problems with that specific industry because of the number of people that are infected at that time, that could be part of that calculation. But, those decisions have not been made yet," said Lakey.

As for when you could get your dose, he thinks we could start to bring in another group or the general population in late May or early June.

SEE ALSO: Not all public vaccine hubs in the Houston-area are available to the public

"I think it will take us through May or June to get through [the] 1B group, as the demand starts waning you can start bringing up other groups a little bit early to make sure you're using all the vaccine that is there," said Lakey.

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