Half of Fort Bend adults fully vaccinated

SESHADRI KUMAR
More than half the adult population of Texas has been fully vaccicanted against COVID-19 and same is the case In Fort Bend County.

With the spike in vaccination numbers, the pace of first time vaccination has slowed down, leading to a glut of vaccine stock.

In Fort Bend County, all vaccine providers are offering the vaccine to any adult who walks-in and asks for it.

Meanhwile, the Texas Department of State Health Services has announced it will no longer allocate COVID-19 vaccine to providers on a weekly basis.

Now that the supply of COVID-19 vaccine is regularly exceeding demand, DSHS will fill vaccine orders from providers as they come in and ship vaccine from the DSHS Pharmacy or place orders with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on a daily basis.

“This is a big step in vaccine distribution,” said Imelda Garcia, DSHS associate commissioner for laboratory and infectious disease services. “The ability to ship vaccine to pharmacies, doctors’ offices, and other providers as they need it will go a long way to making sure it is available when and where Texans want to be vaccinated.”

Vaccine is available more widely than ever at hundreds of locations across Texas, many with no waiting and no appointment needed. Convenience will be key to getting the next group of Texans vaccinated, and DSHS is working with existing providers, employers and community organizations to make vaccination as easy as possible. More information on the vaccine, including tools to locate providers, is available at covidvaccine.texas.gov.

With an ample supply of vaccine, providers no longer need to use every dose in the week they receive it but should store it under the conditions that will maximize its shelf life. DSHS is also encouraging providers to vaccinate anyone who wants to be vaccinated, even if that means opening a new vial for that person without knowing whether all doses will be used.

DSHS Commissioner John Hellerstedt, MD, sent a letter to all vaccine providers Friday encouraging any who need vaccine to make requests by Tuesday so vaccine can be delivered next week. “Additionally, if you have any new strategies for reaching additional people,” wrote Dr. Hellerstedt, “please also let us know by Tuesday - including whether we can support you with vaccines, technical support, or even personnel.”

In the following weeks, providers should continue to request vaccine as needed, and DSHS will place or fill orders for those amounts, rather than drawing down all doses in the state allotment.

Vaccine continues to be available across the state at large vaccine hubs, community vaccination providers, and special clinics operated by the DSHS public health regions, local health departments and Texas Military Forces. 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. People can register with the Texas Public Health Vaccine Scheduler at getthevaccine.dshs.texas.gov, which will match them with a vaccine appointment through a participating public health entity in their county.

In anticipation of the expansion of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine’s Emergency Use Authorization to include adolescents age 12 years and older, the Texas Department of State Health Services invites pediatric health care providers to enroll in the COVID-19 Vaccine Program. Currently, the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine is authorized for people 16 years and older.

“Vaccinating adolescents will bring us closer to ending the pandemic and getting back to normal,” said DSHS Commissioner John Hellerstedt, MD. “Starting the enrollment process now will enable pediatric providers to start vaccinating their patients soon after the FDA expands the Pfizer vaccine’s EUA.”

DSHS sent a letter to more than 3,000 pediatric providers enrolled in the Texas Vaccines for Children Program as well as to the Texas Medical Association, Texas Pediatric Society and other provider groups inviting them to enroll. Providers can start the enrollment process at EnrollTexasIZ.dshs.texas.gov.