Austin Regional Clinic funnels phase 1B vaccine recipients to Austin Public Health sites

Texas coronavirus vaccine

AUSTIN (KXAN) — The state’s announcement to create a regional vaccine hub led to some confusion for those in phase 1B. Clinics not part of the regional hub are now funneling patients to other places like Austin Public Health sites.

Austin Regional Clinic made an announcement to its patients Thursday.

“Texas Governor Abbott announced the new hub system COVID-19 distribution program on Monday. At this time, we have been notified that healthcare organizations in our area have not been designated as hubs,” Austin Regional Clinic wrote in a letter to patients. “We expect no new supplies of COVID-19 vaccine at ARC in the near future.”

Several patients shared their reaction to this announcement.

“I got an email that vaccines were available, and I got on the schedule,” Daniel Scott said. “Now they tell us they cannot provide the vaccine at all.”

“They said those who already received the first dose would get it,” Katherine Adams said. “The letter told us they were only going to provide the second dose, so contact other facilities.”

“I’m just tired, I think that means I’m getting depressed,” said Richard Bryan said.

Scott, Adams and Bryan are all Austin Regional Clinic patients. The COVID-19 vaccine gave these 1B eligible recipients hope.

“Very shortly thereafter I got an email that the vaccines are available and I got on the schedule. I was excited about that,” Scott said.

They received ARC’s letter Thursday saying it would not be administering additional first doses for the time being. Austin Regional Clinic’s letter notes that it expects to only receive 8,000 doses for those who already received the first one.

Those who had registed under the Austin Regional Clinic’s distribution list suddenly shifted over to Austin Public Health’s Regional Hub.

“They cobbled together a system in no time,” Scott said. “No planning, which made things worse.”

Austin Public Health responded to KXAN’s inquiry Friday asking how the shift to a vaccine hub model last week affected its operations:

“Austin Public Health was excited to receive the large vaccine shipment from DSHS this week, and we hope that we will be able to get additional shipments and work more closely with DSHS on their vision for the hub model in the future. We consider this pilot a success, especially considering the efficiency and equity with which we have been able to get out this vaccine.”

Austin Public Health also pointed out it managed to stand up a large operation in the middle of the biggest surge in COVID-19 cases. The state is also requiring them to accept eligible patients from outside counties.

Austin Public Health stated its operations are getting smoother by the day.

“Overall things are going very well – APH is learning and improving its systems each day. We are glad that people are excited to get the vaccine and hope to get more shipments soon to provide vaccine to those in need. Individuals with appointments are seeing short wait times or none at all today. People with an appointment should still plan for about a 30 minute to 1 hour wait in case line times increase later in the day.”

Austin Public Health said individuals who have signed up through APH to pre-register do not need to take any more action at this time. APH will contact individuals directly when additional doses come in, and if they qualify.

KXAN also heard from viewers Friday about how the vaccine hub is going. They acknowledge the process is getting smoother.

“Today my husband and I got our first COVID vaccine from APH. It was the most organized, professional and friendly setup I’ve ever seen,” said Mona Henson. “The lines were quick and smooth. There was someone at every turn.”

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