San Antonio – More than two million vaccine doses have been administered in Texas so far, according to the Department of State Health Services’ statistics on Thursday.
The state’s data shows nearly 1.7 million people have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, and 370,000 of them were fully vaccinated.
However, the chairwoman of the state’s Emergency Vaccine Allocation Panel, DSHS Associate Commissioner Ismelda Garcia, said she’s still not satisfied with the doses.
“We’ve done an amazing job, but we know we can do better,” Garcia told media members during a Thursday morning briefing.
Garcia said one in six Texans age 65 or older have received at least the first of their two doses.
However, getting the vaccine remains difficult as the supply remains low. The lion’s share of doses have been going to what the state calls vaccination “hubs,” which are focused on mass vaccination efforts. But the slots go quickly, and signup procedures vary by site.
Garcia said the state’s recurring first dose vaccine allocation is expected to go up from about 333,000 doses this week to about 385,000 next week. The state has been told to expect that level to continue over the next few weeks, Garcia said, though nothing is for certain.
The state will also get back 126,000 doses it had to set aside as part of a federal vaccination program for long-term care facilities.
“So what we’re trying to do with this one time supply of extra doses next week is to allocate them to some of the suburban counties to help to get them back on par,” Garcia said, adding that the state plans to publish those allocations on Friday.
Vaccines are currently reserved for people in phases 1A or 1B, which consist primarily of healthcare workers, nursing home residents, people 65 years or older, or people with chronic medical conditions.
The EVAP continues to discuss who will be part of the next group eligible for the vaccine, Garcia said, and the timeline for when that group will become eligible will depend largely on vaccine supply.
“We do expect that there will be another blended transition where we would have 1B and 1C - or phase 2 - you know, eligible next. But that’s something that we’re talking through,” Garcia said.
The state will also move to get more race and ethnicity data for the people receiving the vaccine. The state’s data as of Thursday showed 45% of the doses had “unknown” race or ethnicity recorded for the recipient, which makes it hard to say how well black and Hispanic communities, who have been hit harder by the pandemic, have been able to access vaccines.
Garcia said providers had not been entering the information into the state’s immunization registry, though she did not know if they had been collecting it or not.
“We’re going to be moving to make the race and ethnicity field required in order for the vaccine to be coming through, as well as we’re also going to be redoing the user module - what they see when they’re doing data entry - to make it easier to facilitate completing that information,” Garcia said.