HOUSTON – The Harris Health System has found itself in a predicament as they expect to run out of their COVID vaccine supply by noon Friday.
The system consists of Ben Taub and LBJ hospitals, plus 18 health centers and more than a dozen clinics, has been inoculating about 1,500 people a day. But, industry experts say the shortage will affect much more than Harris Health patients.
“If they don’t get access to the vaccines that everyone else is getting, they put the entire city at risk,” said Dr. Vivian Ho.
Ho is a health economist at Rice University and Baylor College of Medicine. Harris Health serves the uninsured and underinsured from low-income communities. Ho says those patients are most at risk for COVID-19 and since many in that community work frontline service jobs — if they’re at risk — we’re all at risk.
Ho also said the vaccine shortage puts added pressure on providers.
“The providers have to figure out, ‘How many nurses do I have to have available? How many people do I have to have available to administer the vaccine and process all the paperwork,’” said Ho?
For now, the final doses run out tomorrow with Harris Health unsure of when the next batch will arrive.
“We can’t keep the entire community safe if we have a group that’s most at risk of getting this virus to continue to contract it and then, unfortunately, spread it to others,” Ho said.
Harris Health had been running seven vaccination sites but tomorrow will run only one. They don’t know when they will receive another shipment but they don’t expect that to happen before Monday.
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