COVID-19 ‘vaccination hubs’ announced in 18 Texas counties

The hubs may better streamline the state's distribution process, which has been labeled confusing and inequitable.  (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
The hubs may better streamline the state's distribution process, which has been labeled confusing and inequitable. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)

The hubs may better streamline the state's distribution process, which has been labeled confusing and inequitable. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)

Large-scale “vaccination hubs” are expected to begin administering COVID-19 vaccine doses across the state during the week of Jan. 11, according to a news release from the Texas Department of State Health Services.

Texas is expected to receive an additional 200,000 vaccine doses from the federal government next week and will divert the majority of its allotment to large providers that plan to vaccinate at least 100,000 people in total, according to the Jan. 7 DSHS release.

Providers included in the program span 18 counties across the state, with several hubs that will operate in hard-hit counties.

Harris and Dallas Counties will each have three hub locations, while Bexar, El Paso, Hidalgo, McLennan, Smith and Tarrant Counties will each have two. The remaining 10 hubs are located throughout the state.

Vaccination appointments will be available to individuals identified in Phase 1A and 1B, which includes health care workers, people age 65 and older, and those aged 16 and older with high-risk medical conditions. Next week will also be the last week the state is required to reserve doses to vaccinate residents and staff of long-term care facilities, according to the DSHS.

To make an appointment, individuals can visit the DSHS vaccine hub website to find their nearest provider and call or register online. Residents are encouraged to call their hub before visiting the location, as walk-in appointments may not be available.

The first hub allocation includes 38,045 doses of the Pfizer vaccine and 120,800 doses of the Moderna vaccine to be used as first doses. An additional 121,875 doses have been allocated to the federal pharmacy/long-term care partnership.

Distribution concerns and limited supply

The vaccine hubs are intended to provide easily identifiable sites and a simple way to register for vaccination, according to the DSHS.

Officials across the state have raised concerns regarding the current distribution process and lack of clarity surrounding how vaccination is prioritized.

For instance, although Texas has extended distribution to individuals in Phase 1B—those age 65 and older and those with high-risk medical conditions—Austin Public Health representatives said Jan. 5 their region has not had enough doses to cover all of their health care workers, which are classified as Phase 1A.

Six Black elected officials within Travis County have expressed concerns over the handling of the COVID-19 vaccine distribution in the Greater Austin region, highlighting racial and regional inequities with the vaccine's distribution.

On Jan. 6, 38 Democratic members of the Texas House of Representatives penned a letter to Gov. Greg Abbott, calling for better information about how vaccine prioritization and distribution decisions are being made.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Texas has received 1.8 million doses of the vaccine as of Jan. 10, with 618,298 first doses administered.

As supply increases in the coming months and vaccines are widely available to the general public, supply may exceed demand, according to the DSHS.

Eva Vigh, Olivia Aldridge, Kelsey Thompson and Amy Rae Dadamo contributed to this report.
By Lauren Canterberry

Reporter, New Braunfels

Lauren joined Community Impact Newspaper as a reporter in October 2019. After graduating with a degree in journalism from the University of Georgia in Athens, Georgia, Lauren was a freelance journalist and worked as a college English teacher in China. At CI, Lauren covers education, local government, transportation, business, real estate development and nonprofits in New Braunfels.