Decentralized method of COVID-19 vaccine distribution causing confusion

Local News

HIDALGO COUNTY, Texas (KVEO) — Unprecedented times like the ones we find ourselves in can be very confusing, as is finding the best place for vaccine distribution information.

Hidalgo County Health Authority Dr. Ivan Melendez says the main websites people should be checking for vaccine distribution are the State and County health websites.

“There isn’t one best place,” said Melendez. “And that’s been a great criticism. There isn’t a uniform site where they can tell you, everybody, that particular day.”

Melendez elaborated on the reasoning behind not having one place to have all of the information, saying that “the idea is to decentralize the distribution of the vaccines so that it’s everywhere, not just one particular place.”

On Wednesday, January 13, KVEO reported that the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) website that showed locations that were supposed to still have vaccines available was often inaccurate.

On Thursday, January 14, DSHS and the Texas Division of Emergency Management (TDEM), who is in charge of the interactive map, responded to KVEO’s request for comment.

The Texas Division of Emergency Management has been partnering with the Texas Department of State Health Services and the Texas Military Department to make vaccine and therapeutic dosage information transparent and easily accessible via an online map to ensure Texans are able to find locations where these treatments are available across our state. Information reported on the map is information provided to us through daily reports from vaccine and therapeutic providers across our state.

Vaccine/Therapeutic providers are required to submit dosage information to the TDEM portal daily by 8 a.m. and this information is populated into the map in near real-time following entry by the providers. Texans are encouraged to visit meds.tdem.texas.gov to find vaccine/therapeutic provider contact information, instructions, and availability.

It’s important to note that the information we are able to share through the online map is only as good as the information reported to us by vaccine providers from across our state.

Seth Christensen, J.D.
Chief of Media and Communications
Texas Division of Emergency Management

The inaccurate information can be because DSHS and TDEM haven’t been notified that the vaccines have been given away yet.

Another problem people are running into is places that are offering vaccines run out quickly.

Counties and hospitals that are vaccination hubs don’t have control over the number of vaccines they receive.

“Let’s remember that the only people that distribute the vaccine is the state. The state allocates to the pharmaceutical companies who gets what,” said Melendez.

We’re hoping and praying that by tomorrow, we’ll have delivered another 23,000.

dr. ivan melendez on the amount of vaccinations that are being administered in hidalgo county this week.

The vaccination process in Hidalgo County is running smoothly according to Melendez.

“We’re getting them, we’re putting them out. We’re getting them, we’re putting them out.”

It’s not just Hidalgo County that is administering vaccines quickly, according to the CDC website, Texas became the first state to surpass one million COVID-19 vaccinations.

As of Monday, there had been over 35,000 COVID-19 vaccines administered in Hidalgo County alone, and with more shipments of both versions of the COVID-19 vaccine arriving weekly, that number will be climbing fast.

“Hopefully by this weekend we can say that we’ve vaccinated over 50,000 people, which would be approximately about eight to nine percent of our eligible adult population in the county,” said Melendez.

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