HOUSTON – The city of Houston is preparing for the mass distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine but says it need a bigger supply.
While the Houston Health Department organizes logistics staffing and support, Mayor Sylvester Turner said the supply of the vaccine is the only thing the city cannot control.
“We just haven’t been able to get more supply and the supply as you know comes from the CDC, down to the state, and then to us,” Turner said during a press conference on Thursday afternoon.
Turner said the state is expected to provide more doses of the vaccine next week. Yet, the volume is below what the city needs for mass distribution.
The ultimate goal is to vaccine more than 5,000 people per day at each of the city’s supersite vaccine locations, according to Turner. The city is currently vaccinating about 1,000 people a day at one location.
To date, Houston has received more than 8,100 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, according to the mayor.
COVID-19 vaccines are free to all and currently available for those who meet the Phase 1A and 1B criteria. Appointments are required and based on the availability of the vaccine.
Officials said all of the city’s COVID-19 vaccine appointments for this weekend have been filled.
“As we get more, we can do more,” Turner said.
The vaccine is working, according to Dr. David Persse of the Houston Health Department. Of the nearly 1.9 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine distributed, there were 21 cases of allergic reaction and no reported deaths.
“The risk of the vaccine is very very low. We having increasing risk but we need to do all the things we’re doing and just remain diligent,” he said.
Houston officials also discussed the recent finding of the COVID-19 variant in Harris County. The variant, which was first seen in the United Kingdom, is considered more contiguous but doesn’t appear to make people sicker.
It is likely that the Harris County case, which is described as an adult male that lives in southwest Harris County with no travel history, is a result of community spread.
“This person was probably infected here in the local area,” Persse said.
Persse said it’s not surprising that the variant showed up in Houston, but urged residents not to overreact.
“We need to continue those things that are going to protect us: mask up, wash your hands and just stay (home),” he said.