Uncertainty looms amid limited COVID-19 vaccine supply in Central Texas

Jennifer Sanders

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Doses of the COVID-19 vaccine are limited in Central Texas as thousands of people struggle to register to get their first dose.

According to the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) COVID-19 vaccination dashboard, the state:

has been allocated 3,213,025 COVID-19 vaccine doses;2,567,350 COVID-19 doses have been shipped to the state;1,372,480 people have been vaccinated with at least one dose;228,314 people have been fully vaccinated;and 1,600,794 doses have been administered.

Hisham Banhawy is an electrical engineer who fixes ventilators and other hospital equipment. He has long-term chronic lung disease, and he is still waiting to get a COVID-19 vaccine.

“I’ve applied everywhere. I’ve tried to go to places that administer the vaccine,” Banhawy said.

But he hasn’t had any luck, and it’s keeping him out of work until he can get his first shot.

“I’m not going to risk my life and work with medical hospital equipment that could potentially have the virus,” Banhawy explained.

During a Friday news conference, Austin Public Health officials said they don’t have enough vaccine available for the Phase 1B group, and it will take months to get people vaccinated effectively.

READ: ‘We don’t have enough vaccine,’ APH says. It could take months to vaccinate the area

“We don’t have a shipping order saying it’s going to arrive on this date; we have trust that the state and federal government are going to supply what they said they are going to supply,” said Dr. Mark Escott, Austin-Travis County interim health authority.

DSHS tells KXAN Operation Warp Speed has told them to expect about the same amount of vaccine doses for the next few weeks. Based on previous allocations, that would be about 300,000 doses weekly.

Hays County received just under 2,000 doses Friday. The county’s public registration portal opened at 1:30 p.m., and within 15 minutes or so, all appointment slots were full.

Registration through Hays County fills in 15 minutes for nearly 2K doses of COVID-19 vaccines

“We can’t even get to vaccinating folks for the first time. This is truly, I hate to say it, but this is truly pathetic,” said Hays County Judge Ruben Becerra.

Becerra says the state should focus on support and let counties have more say in the allocation process.

“We were pulled out of vaccine distribution negotiations or road-mapping for the county, we were told how it was going to happen, we were told how it’s going to roll out,” explained Becerra.

On Friday, Gov. Greg Abbott reassured Texans, saying “vaccine volumes are expected to continue to increase.” KXAN has reached out to his office to get more details on that increase. We will update this story when we learn more.

Today, Texas administered more than 100,000 vaccines in a single day for the first time.

Vaccine volumes are expected to continue to increase.

Our providers are not only working faster, they are also covering more regions in the state.

Always voluntary, never forced.

— Greg Abbott (@GregAbbott_TX) January 23, 2021

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