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State working to ensure residents receive second vaccine doses available

HOUSTON – Texas health officials assured the public they were working with healthcare providers to make sure second doses of the COVID-19 vaccine are available in a timely manner. As part of that effort, the state is ensuring healthcare provides are putting in orders for the second dose when the first doses are received.

“All providers had an opportunity to order a second dose to arrive in the week where people can begin to get them, so they should be available,” said Dr. Imelda Garcia, chair of the state’s expert vaccine allocation panel.

Anxieties regarding the second doses come from healthcare providers handling scheduling differently and questions as to whether some second shots should be held back in lieu of getting more people their first shot.

“I wanted to know if my second appointment is still good?” said Saundra Coffey, who was one of thousands of Houston-area residents who received their first dose of the vaccine during a drive through event at NRG park administered by the Memorial Herman Health system.

Coffey’s second dose is scheduled for next week. When KPRC 2 spoke with officials at Memorial Hermann, they said the second dose will happen as planned.

“I’ve made some medical appointments and procedures based on the fact that I thought I have my second vaccine by a certain date,” said Coffey.

Some KPRC 2 viewers expressed concern they had not yet received an appointment for their second shot through the city of Houston.

“Can you assure people there is enough for the second dose, people are scared there’s not enough around,” said KPRC 2 Investigator Robert Arnold.

“There’s enough of the second dose,” said Stephen Williams, director of the Houston Health Department.

Williams said he understands the worry but asks for patience. He said those waiting on a second dose will receive a link to schedule their next shot or can call the city at (832) 393-4220 to schedule an appointment.

“The expectation is they will get the link before the dose is actually due,” said Williams.

Williams said within the next few weeks the city will have a system in place to schedule second appointments at the same time people receive their first dose of the vaccine.

Garcia also tried to allay fears of those who may not get their second dose of the vaccine within a six-week window.

“It’s OK,” said Garcia. “Get the second dose as soon as you can, you don’t have to start it over. And even if it’s seven weeks, eight weeks or longer, we still want you to get your second dose.”

State health officials do recommend getting your second dose of the vaccine from the same provider who administered the first dose. State health officials said the focus right now remains on getting older Texans vaccinated.

Garcia reported one in three people, 80 and older, have gotten at least one shot, one in four people 65 and older. But people 16 and older who have underlying medical conditions, it’s only about one in 10.