Vaccination slots filled at Memorial Hermann’s drive-thru clinic in Sugar Land

The slots filled quickly after 1,000 more were opened Friday.

SUGAR LANDUPDATE: Vaccination slots have filled since Memorial Hermann opened 1,000 more slots for vaccinations Friday.

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ORIGINAL STORY: Thousands of people are expected to receive a COVID-19 vaccine at the Smart Financial Centre in Sugar Land this week. But registration for the drive-thru event was limited.

According to Memorial Hermann’s website, the signup process was opened to people “who are 65 years of age and older, consistent with the state’s Phase 1B criteria.”

In Texas, Phase 1B also includes people ages 16 and older with certain health conditions.

So why was registration limited to older folks, even though others are also included in Phase 1B?

“Due to limited supply of the COVID-19 vaccine, we must take a staged approach to vaccinate individuals, who meet the state’s Phase 1B criteria,” the hospital said in an email. “At this time, Memorial Hermann has made the vaccine available to one of the most vulnerable populations, individuals 65 years of age and older.”

A spokesman for the Texas Department of State Health Services said providers can use the vaccine to target specific higher-risk groups.

In fact, the state said on Thursday that it plans to allocate vaccines to a broader group of providers next week that serve older adults, especially 75 and older.

“I do think that our top priority is, based on the data, those older populations that are more at risk for death and severe outcomes,” said Associate Commissioner Imelda Garcia.

Memorial Hermann said it plans to work its way through groups of qualified individuals until it’s offered the vaccine to everyone in the phase.

The speed the hospital is able to move through additional populations will depend on supply, the hospital said. The process will take time, likely months.