‘Very limited supply right now’: Judge Lina Hidalgo discusses demand of COVID-19 vaccine in Harris County

HOUSTON – While millions of Texans qualify to be vaccinated under Phase 1B of the state’s vaccination plan, many are discovering making an appointment or even finding a supply of doses to be a challenge.

“They’re in very, very limited supply right now,” said Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo, on the county’s supply of doses.

Thus far, Harris County Public Health has received roughly 8,000 doses, according to Hidalgo, who adds most of the supply has been distributed to larger hospitals and retail pharmacies. Kroger and H-E-B both have outlined their vaccination plans. However, not every entity offering the vaccine is in Phase 1B of its rollout.

“In Harris County they’re probably are a million people under groups 1A and 1B and we’ve only received vaccines in the tens of thousands,” Judge Hidalgo said.

That’s the supply and demand dilemma, about which local leaders and doctors have talked, ever since vaccinations began being rolled out Dec. 14. Harris County Public Health, which receives the county’s doses, learned yesterday it would get another 3,000 doses this week.

“It’s peanuts compared to the size of the population that needs them,” Hidalgo said, adding she’s aware that’s meant a headache for many who qualify but can’t seem to make an appointment – despite doing what state and local leaders have told them to do.

“What do you say to people who are, yes, turning to government for answers, but they’re not getting the answers for which they’re looking,” asked KPRC 2′s Brandon Walker.

“I get it and that’s why the number of vaccines - Harris County, not as an entity, but as a geographic area that have arrived in this area are very limited compared to the population that qualifies,” Judge Hidalgo said.

Judge Hidalgo says this likely will remain the case until many more doses arrive, there’s also a data problem – and that doesn’t help, either.

While the state lists the number of doses it’s distributed, it hasn’t publicly reported how many doses are left and where they may be. She said an inventory would better help local governmental entities to point people on where they can go.

“The information we’re receiving is outdated. The information we’re receiving is incomplete,” Judge Hidalgo said.

" You say the state has been receptive to making that information available,” asked KPRC 2′s Brandon Walker.

“Yeah, I mean, they know we need comprehensive, accurate information as to supply and demand and progress. Everybody recognizes that’s necessary, that’s just not data we have at the local level without the support of the state because we only received a tiny handful of vaccines.”

Judge Hidalgo suspected the supply and demand curve to remain off for months because so many people need to be vaccinated in southeast Texas, in relation to the number of vaccines on hand.

The state has released a map of the providers.