Time is ticking for some Central Texans to get a COVID-19 booster shot — and they don’t know where to go

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AUSTIN (KXAN) — Ronnie Carlson feels grateful to Austin Public Health for his COVID-19 vaccine. Carlson and his wife were able to register with the agency and waited in line for about an hour to get their shot on Tuesday.

While at the Delco center, Carlson says they asked staff what to do about the second shot.

“That was just where nobody really knew,” Carlson said.

He says he was given a card that stated he had to receive his second COVID-19 vaccine dose on Feb. 9, but no information was provided on where to do that. Carlson found out Tarrytown Pharmacy was accepting people like him on a waiting list, so he signed up.

Rannon Ching, Tarrytown head pharmacist, says he has more than 300 people on that waiting list. All of them received their first dose from other providers.

“They’re from here in Austin, there’s some people from the mass immunization hubs up in Dallas and San Antonio, some people from Laredo,” Ching said. “It just shows that there’s a lot of people that are looking for second doses that either haven’t been communicated with enough or are just confused with the whole process.”

In a release, Tarrytown Pharmacy said it didn’t receive any new, first doses of the vaccine from DSHS this week, but will be able to give second doses to patients that received their first dose from the pharmacy in December 2020.

Ching says they have more than 500 of their own patients who need a second dose. He says if they have extra shots or open vials to use up, that’s when the pharmacy will go down the waitlist.

He also says they were initially expecting the doses Monday but received an alert from the state in the afternoon the shipment would arrive by Tuesday morning.

Tarrytown Pharmacy says they have created another communication list for people who are requesting a COVID-19 vaccine booster shot but received their initial dose from a different provider (KXAN Photo/Tahera Rahman)

Ching ended up having to push appointments for about 200 second doses at a retirement community to Wednesday.

“Day 28 from December 23rd is actually this Wednesday, so we need to make sure we start giving those second doses as soon as possible,” Ching said.

According to its website, Austin Public Health says it will reach out to people who received their first vaccine to schedule their second one within the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention timeline.

They say that’ll happen the same way you received your initial confirmation: So, if you got an email the first time, you should receive your reminder for your second dose by email, as well.

APH has not yet told KXAN if they’ve started that process. Carlson still has until Feb. 9 to get his booster shot.

“I’m not going to wait until the last minute and say, ‘Oh my god, on my card it says February 9th, we need it tomorrow,'” he said.

He plans to let Tarrytown know if he gets an appointment somewhere else.

“If Austin Public Health comes out and says, ‘Hey, be here this date and get it’ — I’ll let you know so you can take me off the list and give it to somebody else,” Carlson said.

H-E-B told KXAN it will also contact everyone who received their first dose of the vaccine from the company in week two. They also did not answer when they plan to start that process.

Timelines for a COVID-19 booster shot

Right now, the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are being distributed in Texas.

According to the CDC, for Pfizer, you’re supposed to get your booster shot about 21 days later. For Moderna, it’s about 28 days later. Both have a grace period of four days, according to the CDC.

By those guidelines, people who got their Moderna shots on Dec. 21 and Pfizer shots on Dec. 28 should have gotten their booster shot Monday.

Currently, the Texas Department of State Health Services only publishes a list of places that are getting first doses — so there’s no public-facing way to track if providers from week two vaccine allocations are fully stocked for their second dose patients.

Week two providers include several H-E-Bs and Austin Regional Clinic.

ARC notified patients last week they would not be administering any more first doses at this time, so as to preserve their supply for second-dose needs.

DSHS tells KXAN second doses are expected to be delivered Tuesday to providers who received doses in weeks one and two.

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