Hospitals and other facilities that received COVID-19 vaccines are reminded to administer their entire quota at “deliberate speed,” according to a letter from the Texas Department of Health Services.
The letter from Texas DSHS commissioner Dr. John Hellerstedt noted that there may be “unnecessary delays” in administering all allocated vaccines and reporting these doses administered to the state’s immunization record, ImmTrac2.
“The purpose of this letter is to reiterate that we advise all entities that received a vaccine to administer their entire quota with all deliberate speed. Remember that more vaccines will be provided in the coming days, weeks and months. The time to vaccinate willing individuals is now, ”wrote Hellerstedt.
“Based on the data reported to ImmTrac2, it was clear that a significant portion of the vaccine in Texas may not be administered yet. We know you have valid reasons to explain why this happened in some cases – but we also know that every day that a vaccine stays on the shelves is another day that prolongs the pandemic that is hurting our state’s economy and way of life ” , he added.
The letter went on to urge the opportunity and a sense of urgency, particularly with regard to those who wish to receive the vaccine and are qualified to do so at this time. In Texas, people who are in Phase 1A and Phase 1B are among those who will receive the first.
Phase 1A includes health professionals and first responders, while Phase 1B concerns people aged 65 and over. Phase 1B also includes people aged 16 and over with at least one chronic medical condition that puts them at increased risk for serious illness caused by the virus that causes COVID-19,
“There is no need to ensure that your entire group 1A has been vaccinated before starting vaccinations 1B. If, in a given situation, all 1A and 1B readily available and willing people have been attended to, we recommend that you rotate again and provide vaccine to any additional available and willing people, regardless of their priority designation. Every shot is important, ”wrote Hellerstedt.
At the Wise Health System in Decatur, the hospital reported all 1,165 doses administered over six days.
“We did not expect to enter this process of providing the vaccine to so many first aid groups or even the public, but with extra doses in the bottles, we were able to help protect our community beyond the walls of our hospital,” read one update on Facebook. “We know that the clinic over 65 did not do as well as we would like. The decision was made to provide the vaccine to this age-critical group on Tuesday morning and was implemented in less than 24 hours. “
According to the Wise Health System, they are the only rural hospital in Texas that has received the vaccine so far.
“We are grateful for this opportunity and hope to receive more doses in the future. And, hopefully, we will have more time to plan and be able to have more space to house the clinic. We will continue to communicate through Facebook if / when more vaccines are received, ”said the Facebook post.
Dr. Meenakshi Ramanathan, an assistant professor of pharmacotherapy at the University of North Texas Health Science in Fort Worth, said the vaccine data from Pfizer and Moderna looks promising. However, it will take time and cooperation to see effectiveness.
Ramanathan noted the medical victories that came with the pandemic, along with challenges such as virtual learning.
“Students are struggling with remote learning, whether they are college students or elementary and high school students,” said Ramanathan. “In order for us to return personally and have collective immunity with the vaccine, approximately 70% of people need to be vaccinated.”
Hellerstedt’s letter went on to say that the entities better understand their own individual situations, so the DSHS is asking “that you take the initiative and move forward aggressively with the administration of all the doses of vaccine you received”.
Hellerstedt added that he wants each dose to be administered and that more is on the way.
For more information on the Texas vaccine distribution plan, click here.
A copy of Hellerstedt’s letter is below: