East Texas pharmacies ask for patience as demand increases for COVID-19 vaccine

Pharmacists: Current supply is low as state allows providers to slowly begin vaccinating those in Phase 1B
Updated: Dec. 30, 2020 at 8:59 PM CST
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TYLER, Texas (KLTV) - East Texas pharmacies say they’re taking a lot of calls about the COVID-19 vaccine, especially after the state said capable providers could begin vaccinating those over 65 and those with medical conditions.

And while providers are working to take care of those who are eligible and want the vaccine, they say supply is running low and they need your patience.

“We were allotted 100 vaccines, and we gave those within the first two hours of receiving the vaccine,” said Shawn Sams of Louis Morgan Drug #4 in Longview.

And while the Moderna vaccine didn’t last long after it was received last week, more doses are expected.

“The biggest deal is we don’t want to waste any of the vaccine that we receive,” he said. “So once we start administering it, we have a very small window to give that vaccine. With the Moderna vaccine that we received, it’s just six hours once it’s room temperature. We don’t to waste any. So even with our first initial allotment we wanted to make sure if we didn’t have any health care workers show up, we had a plan in place to be able to take care of those other people who are high risk for a variety of reasons.”

As of Wednesday evening, officials with the Texas Department of State Health Service said those in Phase 1A are priority, this category includes health care workers and those who live at long-term care facilities. The state is also allowing vaccinations to those in Phase 1B, if the provider has does available. Phase 1B includes those over 65 and people 16 and up with a chronic medical condition.

A graphic showing the current state of vaccine distribution in Texas.
A graphic showing the current state of vaccine distribution in Texas.(Texas DSHS)

Among the other East Texas pharmacies receiving doses, Brookshire’s and Super One Food stores, where they’re working to allocate the doses as fast as they can.

“We’re just having a really hard time handling the call volume,” said Charlotte Weller, Pharmacy Health Services Manager for Brookshire Grocery Company. “Most of the calls have been from people who are not really in the two phases, so we ask the general public not call for an appointment as of yet, so we can focus on those in the priority group.”

If you’re in the appropriate category and calling a Brookshire’s or Super One pharmacy, they ask you press zero to schedule an appointment.

“We have literally lists with hundreds of people’s name on them,” she said “We will try to get everybody in the order we receive them. We’re just waiting for additional allocations and we’re trying to do this as orderly as we can and still social distance.”

No matter which pharmacy you visit, it seems they’re all in need of patience from East Texans.

“Just have some patience,” Sams said. “We’re doing the best we can and the state has asked us to give the vaccine as soon as we get it, and that’s what we plan on doing.”


Who’s getting the vaccine now?

If you are a front-line healthcare worker or resident of a long-term care facility, you are eligible now to receive the vaccine, since December 14. This group is considered Phase 1A.

If you are in Phase 1B, you are also eligible to get the COVID-19 vaccine, depending on availability and the vaccine provider. Vaccine supply remains limited, but more vaccine will be delivered to providers each week. Phase 1B recipients include:

  • People 65 years of age and older
  • People 16 years of age and older with at least one chronic medical condition that puts them at increased risk for severe illness from the virus that causes COVID-19, such as but not limited to: Cancer Chronic kidney disease COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) Heart conditions, such as heart failure, coronary artery disease or cardiomyopathies Solid organ transplantation Obesity and severe obesity (body mass index of 30 kg/m2 or higher) Pregnancy Sickle cell disease Type 2 diabetes mellitus

If you are in Phase 1A or 1B, please visit the Texas COVID-19 Vaccine Provider Locations map to see if and where you might be able to get a vaccine today. Remember, your ability to get a vaccine today or this week will depend on vaccine availability at your provider’s office, clinic, or facility. Please call ahead to your provider.

East Texas hospitals ask that you please refrain from visiting their facilities for vaccination, as they continue to vaccinate health care workers and others in Phase 1A.

Who’s getting the vaccine next and when?

The Expert Vaccine Allocation Panel (EVAP) is considering what criteria could be used for later stages of vaccine distribution. This webpage will be updated when those decisions are completed.

Spring 2021 is the best estimate of when vaccine will be available for the general public, but that may change. It depends on vaccine production and how quickly other vaccines become available.

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