COVID-19 ‘vaccination hubs’ coming to Texas next week as officials plead for better distribution

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

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

Large-scale “vaccination hubs” are expected to materialize in Texas next week as the state is gearing up to receive an additional 200,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses, according to a Jan. 7 news release from the Texas Department of State Health Services. The announcement comes on the heels of various elected officials across the state calling for a more streamlined and equitable distribution process.

Texas will be directing most of its vaccines received from the federal government next week to large providers that can vaccinate at least 100,000 people in total, according to the DSHS. The list of providers is expected to be published later this week once vaccine allocations are finalized.

Additional vaccines will be distributed to smaller providers in other parts of the state.

“These vaccination hubs will provide people in those priority populations with identifiable sites where vaccination is occurring and a simpler way to sign-up for an appointment with each provider,” the statement read.

Health care workers, people age 65 and older, and those with high-risk medical conditions will be able to use the hubs. The providers are expected to provide a registration number and website, as well as focusing on areas and populations hit hardest by COVID-19 while vaccinating individuals from surrounding areas, according to the DSHS.

Next week is also the last week the state is required to reserve doses for residents and staff of long-term care facilities, according to the DSHS.

Limited supply

The vaccine hubs are intended to provide easily identifiable sites and a simpler way to register for vaccinations, according to the DSHS. The state’s current distribution process has been labeled convoluted, uncoordinated and inequitable by officials across the state.

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.

“Constituents have been contacting me saying, ‘What is going on? Why is it such a mess? Why can’t we get these vaccines?’” Travis County Commissioner Brigid Shea said.

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. And 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 available state data, 1.36 million doses have been shipped in Texas as of Jan. 7, with 541,512 administered. But Harris County commissioners warned that state data is outdated and unreliable—which may lead to vulnerable populations slipping through the cracks.

“The data is so far off, it's not even worth analyzing or publishing," Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo said at a Jan. 5 meeting.

However, supply is expected to ramp up in the coming months, and when vaccines hit widespread availability, the supply may even exceed demand, according to the DSHS.

Olivia Aldridge, Kelsey Thompson, Amy Rae Dadamo and Shawn Arrajj contributed to this report.
By Eva Vigh
Eva Vigh joined Community Impact Newspaper in 2018 as a reporter for Spring and Klein. Prior to this position, she covered upstream oil and gas news for a drilling contractors' association.


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