Plans to expand COVID-19 vaccine hubs in Texas on hold

At the Kelly Reeves Athletic Complex, no COVID-19 vaccines were given out Thursday as the last dose for the Williamson County HUB program was administered at the Sun City location on Wednesday.

More than 130,000 people in Williamson County are now on the waiting list. Cedar Park resident Linda Leo is on that list, waiting for an email notification that it’s her turn for an appointment.

"Pretty terrible, being that I’m not only 65, I’m immune-compromised, so I've been in this house, since February … I'd love to be able to be out in the world again," said Leo.



A new supply of vaccine is expected by Monday or Tuesday for all HUB locations in Texas. However in a briefing Thursday by state health officials it was made clear: burning through weekly allotments is all part of the plan.

"Use the vaccine as quickly as possible, we want everyone to run out every single week, we don’t want a single dose left on the shelf, it will only work if it gets into people," said Texas DSHS Associate Commissioner Imelda Garcia, who is the chairperson of the state vaccine panel which decides where doses go, and how much each location gets.

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Garcia said Texas next week will get an increase in vaccines, from about 333,000 doses to 385,000. Even with that increase, the Panel is not increasing the number of Hub locations.

"I don’t know yet if that is going to be a sustainable amount of vaccine, we won’t be adding in HUBs, we are going to wait a week to see what the week 9 allocations look like," said Garcia.

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The state is getting back 126,000 doses that were reserved for a federal program. The need, according to Garcia, was overestimated. "With these onetime allocations, we will be trying to equalize the amount of vaccines in areas that haven't received vaccine proportional to their populations," she said.

A mobile vaccine pilot program is also about to be launched to help rural areas. So far, in Texas, a little more than 2 million doses have been administered, with 1.7 million of that being first shots. 370,000 people are now fully vaccinated; that’s 1 out of 13 Texans who are 16 years and older, according to Garcia. However, with a state population of 29 million, Garcia admits there’s a lot more work to do.

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"We are not satisfied with where we are, we continue to push. We are not satisfied with the supply that we are getting, and so we continue to push on that regard," said Garcia.

With supplies still limited, it’s not known when the state plan will move from people in the 1a-1b classifications. Who exactly will qualify as 1a, the next phase for a vaccine, is also a work-in-progress. State officials did say they will start requiring providers to include in their reports a racial breakdown on those receiving vaccine shots.