Woman who got last dose at NRG Park recounts experience as more vaccine slots open up

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Anuja Vij stared into her cell phone and recorded the moment she felt was like winning the lottery.

"This is the last dose on Feb. 24th," a uniformed man said as he was about to jab her with the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

"There were no other cars, it was my car and the car in front of me," said Vij, who drove to NRG Park on a lark with another friend.

It was after 7:30 p.m. when she got to the location, and was surprised that staff waved at her to go into the parking lot.

"There were three doses left," she said. "By the time he took down my name, my information, it was the last dose. The Air Force guy was just standing around, saying, 'I'm just going to get you the jab if you're ready.'"

The idea of getting so-called "leftover" doses, shots left over in an already open vial of vaccine, isn't new. However, vaccine providers caution against driving around looking for doses.

First of all, most major hubs already have a waiting list of people they will call for leftover doses.

Harris County hubs, for example, call up teachers and school staff in the area for the doses. Other locations offer the [leftover] doses to volunteers who are working the site.

READ MORE: Harris County makes 'leftover' vaccine doses available to school district employees
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ABC13's Miya Shay explains how one woman is helping to alert others when appointment slots open through social media and when you need to start checking local pharmacies for availability.

"It's not often," said Roberta Schwartz, the executive vice president at Methodist Hospital. "But every once in a while, there is an occasional dose that has to be distributed, people are getting them at various pharmacies. That happens. I don't know if I would recommend that as a strategy for anybody."

Schwartz said the good news is that the supply of vaccines is expected to drastically increase in the next few weeks, especially with the pending approval of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

READ MORE: Johnson & Johnson's single-dose vaccine protects against COVID-19: US regulators

According to the state officials, 7,109,875 doses have been allocated to Texas so far.

More than three million Texans have had at least one dose, and 1.6 million are fully vaccinated.

Methodist Hospitals also made the move Thursday to allow those 50 and older with medical conditions to begin signing up on its waitlist, another sign that vaccine supplies are on the rise.

"We are gathering the names of the people who are 50 and above, who are 1B with medical conditions. We're building that waiting list and we anticipate that within the next few weeks to get them scheduled for their appointments," said Schwartz.

As for Vij, she is young, and feels extremely lucky to have happened upon that one dose, and that it did not go to waste.

"There's no easy answers on how to do this, I just got lucky," she said.

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