AUSTIN (KXAN) — Despite severe winter weather disrupting COVID-19 vaccine distribution in Texas last week, the Texas Department of State Health Services said Tuesday afternoon that 4.5 million doses have been administered so far.
In a virtual news conference, Associate Commissioner for Laboratory and Infectious Disease Services Imelda Garcia said 3.1 million people have received at least one dose, and 1.4 million people in the state are fully vaccinated.
Garcia reported DSHS has been seeing great progress in vaccinating those 65 and older. Thirty-eight percent of that population has gotten at least one dose, and 1 in 7 are fully vaccinated. More than 1 in 6 people ages 80 and older are fully vaccinated.
Garcia said about 1.4 million doses were expected to arrive to Texas providers either Monday or by the end of Tuesday. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had paused shipments nationwide last week because of the weather.
“But now we have a flood of vaccines in the last couple of days as the bulk of vaccines from last week and all of the vaccines for this week continue to arrive,” Garcia said.
This week, providers will have last week’s allocations and this week’s allocations they’ll need to push through in the coming days, Garcia said. She said Texas providers are working hard to double up their vaccination efforts and are hoping to be caught up in a week and a half.
“Everybody will be receiving second dose shipments. We know this past week a lot of second dose shipments have been delayed obviously because of the weather, but they will be coming,” Garcia said.
“It may not be right there on time, and so we ask that you do check in with the provider that you got your first dose at to make sure that they actually have it on hand before you show up,” Garcia further explained.
Garcia said they have not received word on the state’s federal allocation yet for next week.
Loss of doses due to power outages
Garcia said only an “extremely small amount” of doses had to be tossed due to power outages creating issues for storage. About 1,000 doses were reported to be lost, she said. As providers start working again in their offices, Garcia said that number could go up as more doses are discovered.
Garcia said right now, they will continue to focus on Phases 1A and 1B for vaccine distribution. Conversations with the expert vaccine allocation panel are ongoing, she said, and hopefully there will be a decision on moving forward to the next phase in the coming weeks.
Johnson & Johnson vaccine
Garcia also said later this week, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s advisory committee is scheduled to make recommendations on the Johnson & Johnson vaccine that is pending emergency use approval.
“By this weekend, we could have a third vaccine authorized in the United States, and this would be another huge development in speeding up our vaccination efforts,” Garcia said.