How one Facebook group is helping people find vaccines for loved ones

HOUSTON – A Facebook group known as Vaccinate Houston is helping people find vaccines for their loved ones.

“We’re allowing everyone in who agrees to the rules,” said Laurie DesAutels, creator of Vaccinate Houston- COVID-19 Vaccine Updates. “It started as something small and now it’s becoming something where people are helping each other. I’m not really doing much.”

DesAutels said she started the group over concern about getting the vaccine for her 74-year old mother vaccinated, but it’s turned into a group that as of Monday has nearly 13,000 members.

“The people on there are just sharing information about experiences and about availability,” said Lynn Sheldon, a member of Vaccinate Houston.

Sheldon, a realtor from Cypress who is in her 50s and doesn’t qualify for the vaccine, said she is headed to Hardin County on Thursday to get her first vaccine. She learned from the site that the Health Department in Hardin and Orange County is allowing people of all ages to sign up and get vaccinated.

KPRC 2 contacted the Hardin County Health Department and health director Sharon Whitley confirmed that while their focus is on vaccinating those 65 and older, they are allowing people of all ages to get vaccinated. She said that people from all over Texas and parts of Louisiana are driving in to get a shot. They are currently receiving 3,000 doses each week.

To sign up, you can go to vaccine.beaumontexas.gov. Be prepared for a wait because the website is overwhelmed with traffic.

While Sheldon learned about where she could get a vaccine. Others are learning about vaccine side effect experiences, where to park at certain sites, waitlists and what’s known as “waste lists.”

Waste lists are lists at some pharmacies where you can sign up for a vaccine in case someone cancels or misses an appointment.

“There are places every day that once the vial is open it’s going to go in the trash or it’s going to go in someone’s arm,” DesAutels said. “Nobody ever knows where or when or what time. It’s not something we encourage, but we also don’t want any vaccine to go to waste.

KPRC 2 contacted several pharmacies, but none would confirm they had a waste list.

A spokesperson for Walmart sent us the statement below:

Eligibility and Waste Avoidance Protocols have been developed in collaboration with state health departments with the shared goal of never letting a dose go to waste. Each vial contains multiple doses, and those doses are administered in accordance with CDC and FDA guidelines. In the event additional doses from an opened vial are available and there are no scheduled appointments, we turn to individuals, including our associates, who fall within that priority to administer the remaining doses. If no one is available in that priority, where states allow, we move to the next priority.

To sign up for DesAutel’s Facebook page, you can search Vaccinate Houston- COVID-19 Vaccine Updates on Facebook and request to join.


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