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As Supply Exceeds Demand, Texas Changes How It Distributes COVID-19 Vaccines

A vial of the COVID-19 vaccine Pfizer BioNTech provided to healthcare workers at Dell Medical School on Dec. 15, 2020. (Gabriel C. Pérez/KUT News)
A vial of the COVID-19 vaccine Pfizer BioNTech provided to healthcare workers at Dell Medical School on Dec. 15, 2020. (Gabriel C. Pérez/KUT News)

As supply of COVID-19 vaccines continues to exceed demand, Texas is shifting how it distributes doses to providers.

So far, the Texas Department of State Health Services has been allocating a certain number of vaccines to providers on a weekly basis. Now, providers can place vaccine orders as needed, and the department will fill them as they come in.

“This is a big step in vaccine distribution,” Imelda Garcia, DSHS associate commissioner for laboratory and infectious disease services, said in a press release. “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.”

As demand has dwindled, many providers in the state have started offering vaccines without people having to sign up for an appointment or get on a waitlist. About 37% of eligible Texans are fully vaccinated, and more than half of eligible Texans have gotten at least one dose.

To get more people vaccinated, DSHS says convenience is key. The department says it’s working with providers and community organizations to make vaccination “as easy as possible.”

Now that there’s so much supply, DSHS says, providers no longer need to use every dose in the week that they get it, but they should store it properly so it stays effective as long as possible.

“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,” the press release said.

Since the department is shifting its vaccine-ordering process, it will stop posting weekly allocations online and discontinue its weekly report on wasted doses.

Got a tip? Email Marisa Charpentier at mcharpentier@kut.org. Follow her on Twitter @marisacharp.

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