During his speech at the border wall in Alamo, Texas, on Tuesday, President Donald Trump discussed the main achievements of his administration.
In addition to talks of immigration and border security, Trump noted the rapid development of the COVID-19 vaccine.
“Nobody thought it was possible,” Trump said. “They said it would take five years….Well, we did it just like I said we would.”
Trump then mentioned the rollout of the vaccine to all 50 states and congratulated Texas Governor Greg Abbott on the handling of the vaccine administration.
“And we’re now delivering it to states, including your state, where your governor and government are doing a terrific job in getting it administered in Texas.”
Texas is doing well compared to other states in terms of administering the vaccine.
As of January 12, the CDC said 27.7 million doses of the vaccine have been distributed across the country, but only one-third (9.3 million) have been administered.
In the majority of states, only 2.8 percent of the population have received the vaccine. Texas is in the middle range of states. With a population of 29 million, Texas has administered the vaccine to 3.1 percent of its population. That is higher than New York (3 percent) and California (2.1 percent).
Abbott boasted on Twitter a Bloomberg report that ranked Texas number two among the top 20 states for the percentage of shots used. As of January 13, Texas administered 911,461 doses of the vaccine, 46.8 percent of the vaccines distributed to the state.
Abbott said Texas expects to see an additional 310,000 first doses per week for the rest of January and up to 500,000 second doses for those who already received the first dose of the vaccine in prior weeks. Continued increases are expected, Abbott said, depending on the federal government allotments.
The state has established 28 designated hubs for administering the vaccine. Phase 1A included doctors and healthcare workers, while 1B includes people over the age of 65 and people over the age of 16 with certain serious health conditions.
Abbott told the Texas Tribune that his only limitation at this point is supply, which is not something the state of Texas controls.
“The supply of the vaccination comes only from the federal government, and for them, it comes largely from the manufacturing capabilities” of the companies making the vaccine, Abbot said.
Texas Health Commissioner John Hellerstedt said the rate and scale of the state’s rollout has been “a really amazing operation” and said the creation of the hubs would ratchet up the rate of administration.
“Our goal is, by the end of the week, we have no vaccines left,” Tarrant County Judge B. Glen Whitley said.
As of January 13, Texas has 22,270 new confirmed cases and a total of 1,775,619 confirmed cases, 247,016 probably cases and 30,624 fatalities, according to the Texas Department of State Health Services. Johns Hopkins University and the New York Times are reporting total cases at more than 2 million. The state is seeing an upward trend of new cases since Christmas.
Like most other states, the initial rollout of the vaccine came with some confusion and logistical challenges.
At the end of December, Hellerstedt issued a letter urging “entities that have been allotted vaccine to administer their entire allotment with all deliberate speed.” The letter said a significant portion of the vaccines had likely not been administered yet. The department asked facilities with vaccines to create timelines and use a “sense of urgency” to use the shots.
“We trust that you know your situation far better than we could, so we ask you to take the initiative and push forward aggressively with administering all the vaccine dose you have received,” the letter said.
At the beginning of 2021, the Texas Tribune said the vaccination rollout has been “confusing” so far, with medical experts and others unsure how the state planned to administer the vaccine to roughly 30 million people. There was “vague messaging” on details about who was eligible to receive a vaccination, where to get it and how to schedule a vaccination from state officials along with technical errors, logistical delays and even supply shortages in some areas.
Hospitals, pharmacies and health centers had to build new scheduling systems from scratch and struggled to keep up with the “anxious public wondering when their turn for the shot will come.”
When Texas announces the open vaccination to the second group–those over the age of 65 or people 16 or older with certain health conditions, many health providers were caught off guard. According to the Texas Tribune, phone lines jammed, websites crashed, and lines got longer.
According to the Texas Tribune, at Memorial Hermann, a link was emailed to 50,000 select, qualified patients to schedule their vaccine at one of seven public clinics. But some recipients started forwarding that link to friends and family, and even posting it on Instagram. Every space was booked after 36 hours and people who were not supposed to register were on the schedule. Staff members had to turn people away if they didn’t meet the state’s criteria to receive a vaccine at that time.
Experts said it might take weeks for some providers to get enough vaccines to start administering to the Phase 1B members. There are almost 4 million adults who fall in this bracket. As of January 12, Texas has just over 2 million doses of the vaccine, according to the state’s COVID-19 vaccination dashboard.
During the first week, December 14, the state allocated 224,250 doses for 110 providers. In the second week, December 21, about 620,000 doses of Moderna and Pfizer vaccines were allocated to more than 1,100 providers in 185 counties. These vaccines were for people in phase 1A, mostly doctors and health care workers. By the third week, December 28, 257,000 doses were supplied to more than 350 providers in 94, with an additional 121,875 Pfizer doses to long-term care facilities. At this point, a total of 1.2 million doses were given to 199 counties.
By January 4, more than 325,000 first doses were allocated to nearly 950 providers in 158 counties, including 121,875 doses went to pharmacies and long-term care facilities. Around 1.5 million doses reached 214 counties.
In week 5, January 11, about 234 providers received first doses and around 500,000 second doses for those vaccinated weeks ago. At this point, the vaccine has been administered to residents in all 254 Texas counties.
The state estimates that vaccines will become available to the general public by spring.
Texas is reporting some of the best numbers for vaccine administration in the country. For the state with the second-largest population, its rollout has been successful so far.