‘We have yet to cover rural Texas’: Rural frontline workers still waiting on COVID-19 vaccine

Hill Country

BLANCO COUNTY, Texas (KXAN) — Many healthcare professionals in rural counties across Central Texas say they haven’t received the COVID-19 vaccine, and they don’t know when they’ll get it.

According to the Texas Organization of Rural and Community Hospitals (TORCH), staff has counted 68 rural Texas hospitals that haven’t yet gotten a single dose, which is more than 40% of the organization’s 157 hospitals.

About 31 of them were on the Moderna list that dropped this week, so they hope to receive shipments next week. About 15 of them are getting vaccines thanks to sharing among regions. That leaves 20 – 30 who are still trying to get in on the state’s next allocation.

“Many are in line for an allocation, but we have yet to cover rural Texas frontline providers,” said John Henderson, president and CEO of TORCH.

Rural communities in places like Blanco County are still waiting to get shots to vaccinate their frontline workers, before moving to Phase 1B. Blanco County EMS officials tell KXAN no one in Phase 1A has been vaccinated in their area, except those who were able to get a shot out of town because of their work or residence.

According to this map by the Texas Department of State Health Services, 42 people in the county have gotten their first dose of the vaccine to date.

Businesses like Blanco Pharmacy and Wellness, the oldest independent community pharmacy in Texas, currently has a waiting list for those in their area who want the vaccine.

“The phone is just ringing all day with people saying, ‘Can you add me to the list?’ So I know it’s going to come, but I wish they would just give me a date,” explained Siobhan Atchley, pharmacist and owner of Blanco Pharmacy and Wellness.

That list is mostly made up of those 65 and older, part of Phase 1B. Atchley said her facility is ready and has the capacity for COVID-19 vaccinations as soon as they are available.

“I don’t really know what’s going to happen until I have an email that says this is the date you are going to receive the vaccine, I’m telling [customers] it could be anywhere from late January to early March,” Atchley said.

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