Many Texas hospitals left out of first COVID-19 vaccine allotment
HOUSTON - Preparations are underway at hospitals across the country to receive the first round of COVID-19 vaccines.
Video taken Friday, shows freezers prepared inside Memorial Hermann and Houston Methodist hospitals. The freezers will be used to store COVID-19 vaccines once they arrive.
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“The first week is going to bring about 224,000 doses,” said Chris Van Deusen, a spokesperson from the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS). “Those doses are going to 109 hospitals in 34 counties across Texas.”
According to Texas Governor Greg Abbott, the state expects to receive more than 1 million doses of the vaccine through December. As of right now, the DSHS is prioritizing larger hospitals to receive the vaccine first.
“This is just the first week,” said Van Deusen. “We’re giving out to those really large providers that can vaccinate a large number of our frontline healthcare workers.”
Memorial Herman, Houston Methodist, and St. Luke’s hospitals in Houston are all slated to get nearly 6,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses each during the first allotment. However, other local hospitals such as United Memorial Medical Center (UMMC) aren’t expecting to receive any vaccines this upcoming week.
“it doesn’t make sense,” said UMMC Chief Medical Officer Dr. Joseph Varon. “To me, it indicates there are other reasons that they are getting allocated [first]. I’m not going to speculate. We don’t know when we’re going to get the vaccine.”
According to Dr. Varon, UMMC has treated more than 600 patients with COVID-19 this year. While the hospital is smaller in size, he believes their staff members on the frontline should be first in line for vaccine.
“Our employees need the vaccination,” said Dr. Varon. “I know there are a lot of hospitals out there not working as hard as we are, pertaining to COVID-19.”
Dr. Varon wrote a letter to state health officials listing 10 reasons why UMMC should be in the first allotment to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. However, Varon says he hasn’t received a response.
“If the state officials are listening to this, be nice to us,” said Dr. Varon. “Send us vaccines. We need them. We have a staff of 360 people. What is an extra 360 doses?”
“It’s a limited supply at first,” said Van Deusen. “We have to focus on where we can get the most bang for our buck. Starting week 2, we’ll be able to distribute much more widely.”