Efforts to ramp up vaccine allocation continue next week as the Johnson & Johnson vaccine makes its way to providers.
"With the Johnson & Johnson vaccine we will have 220,000 more doses coming into our state allocation, so that helps us have much more widespread across all of our providers," said Imelda Garcia, chair of the Expert Vaccine Allocation Panel at DSHS.
So far about 2.1 million Texans are fully vaccinated and 3.9 million have received a first dose. The state is still vaccinating 1A and 1B groups, which now includes school and daycare staff in addition to those 65 and older, healthcare workers, first responders, those in long-term care facilities and anyone 16+ with an underlying medical condition.
"The definition for 1C should be coming to you all soon. Based on our projections for increased supply coming this month, we do expect at some point this month that we will be able to make an announcement on 1C," Garcia said.
Next week, 200,000 doses sent to Texas will go to pharmacies. Much of those will be the Johnson & Johnson brand.
"Obviously, the storage and handling component and the ease of just one dose is something that is very attractive to the majority of our providers all across the state and so it will be widely dispersed," said Garcia.
DSHS has also teamed up with Tarrytown Pharmacy in a special effort to reach patients with intellectual and developmental disorders living in group homes.
"They were supposed to be taken care of by the federal program as part of phase 1A but they were mostly overlooked, unfortunately, by the federal partners that were available at the time," said James Cong, director of business development at Tarrytown Pharmacy.
Pharmacists with Tarrytown will hold clinics for those patients and their caregivers in Austin next week before moving on to nearly three dozen other locations.
"We're planning to vaccinate up to 22,000 patients over the course of only four weeks all spread out throughout Texas," Cong said.
Next week, some school districts in Texas, which signed up as providers, will also be allocated doses.
DSHS said they continue the work to catch up to other states with better vaccination rates. "We have had multiple conversations, we continue to engage our legislative and elective congressional members in order to make the argument for Texas to get more doses," said Garcia.
Currently, Texas ranks 48th out of all 50 states in terms of vaccine doses administered per 100,000 people.
DSHS said part of the reason the state is lagging on vaccinations is because the CDC was using population data from 2018 to allocate a percentage of doses instead of updated numbers from more recent years.