Frustration over access to vaccinations in Galveston County

GALVESTON, Texas – The COVID-19 vaccine hubs will soon open across Texas but not in Galveston County, at least not during the first round.

The initial list includes three hubs in the Houston area; all three are located in Harris County.

“We certainly have the capacity to be a vaccine hub and we are getting rid of the vaccine about as quickly as we’re getting it in, yet we’re not being considered for a vaccine hub,” said Dr. Philip Keiser, the local health authority for Galveston County.

Between the vaccine allocation amounts so far and lack of a hub, Dr. Keiser said he doesn’t want the state to forget about people in his county.

“Our hospitals are just as full as the hospitals in Houston,” he said. “I don’t understand why all of it’s going there and we’re not getting our share.”

This week, the state plans to direct most doses to larger sites or hubs to provide more people the vaccine and offer a simpler way to sign up for an appointment. The initial list includes 28 sites.

“The initial hub sites were selected based on the ability of those providers to quickly arrange and execute larger vaccination efforts,” Chris Van Deusen, director of media relations for the Department of State Health Services, said in an email. “We expect there to be more hub sites in suburban and smaller communities next week.”

The state also noted that the vaccine supply is still limited at this time.

Dr. Keiser said the Galveston County Health District has only received 600 doses so far.

While UTMB has been allocated thousands, the hospital said it will temporarily run out of first doses by Wednesday.

In a statement, Galveston County is encouraging residents who want the vaccine to call the state and ask that more doses be sent to the county.

“I understand why they would want to go at population centers but we’re right next to them and we’ve got plenty of COVID on our own,” Dr. Keiser said. “We have the capability to do this so please give us the chance.”