Texas health officials are giving local pharmacies the green light to go ahead and start vaccinating those in Phase 1B for COVID-19 while Phase 1A is still underway.
On Tuesday, Texas DSHS Commissioner Dr. John Hellerstedt said in a released statement, “All providers that have received COVID-19 vaccine must immediately vaccinate healthcare workers, Texans over the age of 65 and people with medical conditions that put them at risk of severe disease or death from COVID-19. No vaccine should be kept in reserve.”
While Phase 1A of Texas’ COVID-19 vaccination distribution includes frontline and healthcare workers, as well as some first responders, funeral home workers and school nurses, Phase 1B includes those over 65 and people with certain medical conditions. Originally, DSHS said vaccinations for Phase 1B wouldn’t start for weeks, as the state worked to get those in Phase 1A vaccinated. DSHS said there is an estimated 1.9 million people in Phase 1A.
An interactive map developed by DSHS shows healthcare providers that have received a shipment of the COVID-19 vaccine. It can be accessed at: bit.ly/2WSDFZ2 at the DSHS website. However, many pharmacies say that they are still not able to vaccinate those in Phase 1B due to limited supplies. The state’s vaccine dashboard shows less than a third of the 668,000 doses it received have been administered.
Issues with keeping Moderna vaccines in the proper temperature range have led to some delayed shipments in Texas, according to the Texas Hospital Association. Moderna’s vaccine must be stored at regular freezer temperatures of 5 to -13 degrees Fahrenheit. The CDC has outlined guidance for providers to follow when shipments arrive, including inspecting them for damage and checking a TagAlert Temperature Monitor placed inside the box. The federal government has since replaced the shipments that hadn’t stayed cold enough.
As of Dec. 30, Texas has officially reported 1,536,265 confirmed cases and 201,182 probable cases of COVID-19 in the state. Over the past seven days, the state has seen an average of 11,632 new confirmed cases and 2,196 probable cases each day.
As of Dec. 30, the state has officially reported 27,088 deaths. Over the past seven days, Texas has reported an average of 170 deaths each day. The total number of deaths does not include people who had COVID-19 but died from an unrelated cause.
Gillespie County continues to see novel coronavirus case counts surge, as Hill Country Memorial Hospital’s positivity rate has hit a record high 26%, with more than 1 in 4 persons tested at the hospital testing positive for the virus, according to HCM Chief Medical Officer Dr. Jim Partin.
As of Dec. 28, the county was reporting 176 active cases and 19 confirmed COVID-19 deaths. In an effort to provide the most up-to-date information available regarding case statistics, the COVID-19 case numbers accumulated from Fredericksburg Independent School District have been added to the county totals.