This was the first group of patients eligible after hospital system employees and physicians were vaccinated in the weeks leading up to Jan. 18. Vaccines are provided by invitation and appointment only for individuals in this age group who have patronized a Houston Methodist facility in the last two years.
“I think if you want to get rid of this plague, or whatever you want to call it, you got to start by getting everybody vaccinated. And I couldn’t wait to get it,” 80-year-old patient Rodney Alexander said in a statement provided by hospital officials.
According to the hospital system’s website, patients ages 65-74 are next in line for the vaccine, followed by patients younger than 65 with certain medical conditions. These groups have not yet been contacted for scheduling purposes.
More than 86,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses had been administered across the Houston Methodist system, Marketing and Communications Manager Megan Fulin said in a Jan. 25 email.
“Across the system, our hospitals are prepared and have been administering the COVID-19 vaccines as soon as new supplies are received. We are vaccinating more people than any other organization in Texas,” she said.
Supply continues to be the biggest challenge facing Houston Methodist and other health care organizations nationwide. Fulin said the next phase of vaccine recipients will depend on vaccine availability.
But many of the individuals able to secure their first dose in the last week were eager to get vaccinated once doctors assured them it was safe to do so, officials said. Most of these patients are retired but have missed in-person visits with loved ones over the course of the pandemic.
Edward Leutsch is one of the local patients eligible to be vaccinated last week due to the risk presented by his age and a recent heart condition. He said he hopes enough people will receive the vaccine but will continue to wear a mask and follow safety protocols in the meantime.
Nina Hermann, a widow and Houston Methodist patient, said she has only seen her family outside on patios since the start of the pandemic. She has also been able to stay connected through her church, but she is looking forward to feeling safe enough to attend her grandson’s ball games again, she said.
“There is nothing to lose at this point. It’s worth taking the chance and getting the shot over getting COVID,” Hermann said.
For the most up-to-date information regarding the vaccine from Houston Methodist, visit http://houstonmethodist.org/vaccine.