As Travis County receives fewer vaccines this week, state asks for 'one more big push' in distribution

Photo of hands in purple gloves prepared a vaccine vial
Giselle Copa, an Austin Community College pharmacy student, prepares a COVID-19 vaccine for administration. (Olivia Aldridge/Community Impact Newspaper)

Giselle Copa, an Austin Community College pharmacy student, prepares a COVID-19 vaccine for administration. (Olivia Aldridge/Community Impact Newspaper)

Travis County providers are collectively receiving a smaller allocation of coronavirus vaccine doses from the Texas Department of State Health Services this week as the supply continues to exceed the demand and the state agency shifts its model for distributing vaccine.

During the week of May 3, 37 providers will receive a collective 20,790 doses, down from more than 44,000 last week. Shots from all Food and Drug Administration-authorized distributors—Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson—are included in this week's shipment. As in previous weeks, the largest number of doses will go to Austin Public Health; however, the hub provider is set to receive 6,000 doses this week, half of its usual allotment.

"Many of the large vaccine providers have reduced their vaccine requests as shots become more widely available at smaller, more convenient locations around the state like pharmacies and doctors’ offices," the DSHS said in a May 1 news release.

This week's allocations include 29 hub providers, compared to 47 last week. Neighboring Williamson County has stopped requesting doses from the state and closed its mass vaccination sites, encouraging vaccine seekers to get doses from local physicians, pharmacies and other small providers. UT Health Austin, the other hub provider for Travis County, is also not scheduled to receive any doses this week.

Now that the state's vaccine supply exceeds demand, the DSHS has elected to only fill the allocations specifically requested by providers across the state rather than "draw down" the state's full supply. The agency is sending out 446,460 first-dose shots this week and keeping more than 500,000 doses in reserve to fill future requests.

Most Austin-area providers are scheduled to get allocations of 300 doses or fewer. Many of those receiving doses are small, independent providers, including East Austin Medicine Shop, 38th Street Pharmacy, and Marchand and Associates Family Medicine. Ascension Seton Medical Center, which supplies doses to the Central Texas Counties Vaccine Collaborative drive-thru vaccination site at the Circuit of the Americas, is set to receive 3,510 doses, down from 11,700 last week.

"I encourage you to consider what you can do to make one more big push to quickly vaccinate those who are willing. This is our path out of the pandemic and back to normal lives," DSHS Commissioner John Hellerstedt said in a letter to providers April 30. "If you have any new strategies for reaching additional people, please let us know."

See the full list of vaccine allocations for the week of May 3 here.
By Olivia Aldridge
Olivia is the reporter for Community Impact's Central Austin edition. A graduate of Presbyterian College in upstate South Carolina, Olivia was a reporter and producer at South Carolina Public Radio before joining Community Impact in Austin.


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