Texas creates new COVID-19 vaccine “hubs”, some rural communities feel ignored

On Monday, Texas Governor Greg Abbott announced a new state strategy for distributing COVID-19 vaccines. According to the Governor, less providers will receive the shot compared to before. However, many of the recipients who do receive the shot will get more doses.

The plan will focus on new vaccine "hubs" that are intended to help distribute the vaccine faster.

"Each of these facilities will provide thousands of vaccines every single day," said Governor Abbott. "Making the process far quicker and far more efficient."

The Texas Department of State Health Services said Sunday that the hub providers will get more than 158,000 doses of the vaccine this week. According to the provided list, 26,725 of those doses were sent to 3 new "hubs" in Harris County.

Harris County Public Health, Houston Health Department, and Houston Methodist hospital were named Harris County’s new vaccine hubs this week. Harris County Public Health and the Health Department both received 8,000 doses each for the week. In addition, Houston Methodist Hospital received 10,725 Coronavirus vaccine doses.

"Methodist has been very aggressive in getting out the vaccine," said Houston Health Department Director Stephen Williams.

According to Houston Methodist, they had already given nearly 40,000 COVID-19 vaccines to people as of January 10th.

A spokesperson from Houston Methodist says they plan to distribute thousands of Coronavirus shots to eligible people throughout the week. In addition, they will likely have a large vaccination event this coming Saturday. If you’re interested, you can apply for an appointment HERE.

The City of Houston opened its first "mega-site" for COVID-19 vaccines this past Saturday. According to Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner, the city vaccinated more than 3,800 people. Mayor Turner says he hopes to open an additional Coronavirus vaccine "mega-site" as soon as possible.

"As soon as we get it, the goal is to put those shots in peoples’ arms," said Mayor Turner.

While 3 of the state’s 28 new vaccination "hubs" are located in Harris County, officials from nearby counties say they feel ignored. Although providers will still receive vaccines, no vaccine "hubs" were made in Liberty, Fort Bend, Montgomery, and Galveston County.

"Earlier today, Governor Greg Abbott outlined the state’s new plan for COVID-19 vaccine distribution. This plan will significantly prioritize urban areas over suburban and rural communities," said Zach Davidson, a communications director for Galveston County. "For example, the state’s current plan provides Harris County an allotment of approximately one dose per 165 residents and Galveston County one dose per 855 residents. Neither the University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB) nor the Galveston County Health District are scheduled to receive any vaccine doses in the state’s current or subsequent distribution. The County is actively working with UTMB and our local partners to explore options on how to bring additional vaccine doses to Galveston County to meet the needs of our residents. We encourage residents wishing to get a vaccine to contact the Texas Department of State Health Services at 512-776-7111 and request the state send more doses to Galveston County."

State officials say they’re trying to get as many vaccines as possible from the federal government. However, the demand for the Coronavirus shot is huge across the nation. Pfizer and Moderna, the manufacturers, are both trying to make enough vaccines to catch up to demand.

"A Texan is not limited to getting a vaccine in only the county of which they live," said Abbott. "We work every single day on strategies to insure that there will be a fair and equal distribution of vaccines in every region."

"Have a sense of patience," said Dr. John Hellerstedt commissioner for DSHS. "We will be getting more vaccines. We will be discovering even better ways to administer the vaccine."