Gov. Greg Abbott had a message for healthcare providers on Monday: Give out all the COVID-19 vaccine you have. Don’t hold on to it to make sure people get their second dose.
Abbott visited the mass vaccination site at the Arlington Expo Center for a press conference about how vaccine rollout is going, exactly one month after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration authorized the first vaccine for emergency use.
Abbott said it’s important for providers to get vaccines in as many arms as possible, as quickly as possible.
“Get that dose to a Texan immediately, knowing full well that you will be receiving your second dose very, very soon,” Abbott said.
This directive echoes President-elect Joe Biden’s announced strategy to inoculate as many people as possible instead of holding back second doses.
Abbott told reporters that for the rest of January Texas will get 310,000 first doses, and 320,000 to 500,000 second doses. Both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines require two doses. Those numbers don’t account for the doses going to long-term care facilities, he said.
“The biggest complaint that I hear with regard to the vaccination process is an inadequate supply, and believe me, I’m sympathetic to it, because it’s the biggest complaint that I also have,” Abbott said. “The supply is totally up to the federal government, and we are urging them to get us more supply as quickly as possible.”
Abbott’s other complaint is about the pace of vaccination in nursing homes and long-term care facilities.
CVS and Walgreens have a deal with the federal government to administer vaccines to those facilities. According to the governor's office, they have given about 75,000 doses, with 412,000 either not reported or not yet administered.
Abbott said he and other governors think they should speed things up.
“There's no reason for that process to be moving as slowly as it is,” he said.
This week, the Texas Department of State Health Services plans to direct most COVID-19 vaccine doses to 28 vaccination hubs, with the goal of inoculating more than 100,000 people.
“Vaccine hubs aim to provide more vaccines quicker and easier. Texas vaccine supply is limited (but more arrives every week) and it will take time to vaccinate all,” DSHS’ website states.
Tarrant County Judge Glen Whitley told reporters at the press conference that Tarrant County has partnered with 10 other counties to help vaccinate their residents, too.
"Our goal is at the end of the week, we have no vaccines left," he said.
The press conference took place in a room right next to the big, open convention center floor, where masked people sat in spread out rows of chairs, waiting for their vaccinations.
Scott Deaso of Arlington was one of them.
"My wife and I have underlying health conditions, and we've been cooped up in the house. We don't get to see our older children because we've been trying to stay within our pod," he said.
Deaso, who brought along his dog Zoey, said he doesn't have any worries about the vaccine.
"The science is the science, and that's what I'm gonna rely on. The experts," he said.
Deaso was surprised with how well the expo center was handling the vaccination, and he said he didn't have to wait in a long line.
Chetana Chaphekhar of Arlington said she had a positive experience, too, and encouraged others to sign up.
"I really believe that people should register to get this vaccine. I know still some people are kind of scared or don't want to. I would strongly suggest they should get the vaccine," she said.
Chaphekar also said her daughter — who is a doctor — just got her second dose.
"I was happier for her to get it than me," she laughed.
Right now, the only people eligible to get vaccinated are frontline healthcare workers, residents of long-term care facilities, people over 65 or people with a chronic medical condition that puts them at higher risk for a severe case of COVID.