Several workers at a hospital in Rio Grande Valley, Texas, rejected the new COVID-19 vaccine after the facility offered a dose to other medical personnel in the area. Many showed up, but there was a state legalist, a police officer and a sheriff deputy who were not on the state’s priority list for vaccination.
Hospitals in Texas began receiving the first batches of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine over the past several days. The Renaissance Doctors Hospital in Edinburgh, one of the most affected by the virus this year in Texas, received 5,850 doses of the vaccine.
State guidelines state that these initial batches should go to front-line health care workers. But how the actual delivery functions may look different from the facility as each interprets the recommendations of those states.
The Chief Medical Officer of DHR Health, Dr. Robert Martinez said hospital officials preferred employees falling in the first category for a dose, such as hospital staff who work directly with COVID-19 patients and long-term care workers. But administrators realized that not enough people eligible for the vaccine were initially going to choose to receive it, Martinez said.
“You start seeing equal numbers across the country, it’s all mistrust and misinformation,” he said.
Martinez said that initially, about 40% to 60% of people who responded to a hospital survey said they would receive the vaccine. The first-expected vaccine adoption rate was reported by the monitor.
DHR Health did not want to waste vaccine supplements. After the first day of delivery, the hospital began to go “downwards … slightly down the ladder,” Donyanage said. Hospital staff called health care workers in other medical institutions – such as hospitals, nursing homes, behavioral health facilities. And anyone with workers on the front lines of COVID-19 – in neighboring cities and counties in the valley.
The Rio Grande Valley is made up of the Cameroon, Hidalgo, Star and Willis counties. Since the onset of the epidemic, more than 68,000 people have tested positive for coronavirus in the predominantly Hispanic region.
“The more the merger is, as far as I’m concerned,” Martinez said, stressing that it was not free for all. He said that he and other employees told medical personnel if they could not bring relatives to do so.
A photo journalist who worked for The Texas Tribune on Saturday put several people in line for the vaccine in Edinburgh, or received it. One was state Sen. Eddie Lucio Jr., who is also a member of the state’s COVID-19 Specialist Vaccine Allocation Panel, which recommends to the state health commissioner which group should be given priority for vaccination.
Chris Van Dusen, a spokesman for the Texas Department of State Health Services, said lawmakers are not eligible for the vaccine in this first round, unless they are health care workers. Lucio, a Democrat whose district includes the southeast part of the valley, is not a health care worker. In a statement on Monday, Lucio said he had been invited by the DHR to take the vaccine, as he explained to him that all eligible employees who wanted to receive the vaccine – and the surplus would have to be administered or destroyed.
“I find it shocking that there is growing concern about the COVID-19 vaccine. I believe this is the key to significantly reducing the number of infections and deaths for our state, and I hope that by showing everyone that there is nothing to fear, I will take the vaccine Can help set the tone so that more and more Texans can accept. As soon as the vaccine is available, “Lucio said.
The jurist also noted that because he is over 65, he is at the next level of those who health officials said will be next in line for the vaccine.
However, state health officials said Monday that Texas is far from transitioning to the next phase of vaccine delivery for people over 65. Lucio refused to comment further, saying that he was prone to people who know he has the virus. DHR did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The photo journalist also spoke to a man who identified himself as a Hidalgo County Sheriff’s Deputy. The first tier of people slated to get the vaccine does not include law enforcement workers at DSHS.
A spokesperson for the Hidalgo County Sheriff’s Office did not return a call for comment. Martinez said he was not aware of any specifics, but law enforcement sometimes assists hospital personnel.
Van Dusen said in an email that vaccine providers should “follow the priorities set by the Expert Vaccine Allocation Panel and DSHS.” In this first phase of delivery, “the priority is to immunize residents of long-term care facilities and front-line health.” Take care of workers who have direct communication with patients. “
Vaccine wrote that the vaccine is not reserved only for employees of a vaccine provider. “We encourage providers … to reach out to other health care workers in their community to help them vaccinate.”
Among those receiving the vaccine this weekend was Rio Grande Valley pharmacist Danny Vella, who received a call from someone he knew at the doctors’ hospital on Saturday at the Renaissance. Vela is not an employee of the hospital, but was told that vaccine supplements were available if he wanted.
So Vella, a pharmacist and co-owner of Lee’s Pharmacy in the Valley and his daughter, Lee’s Pharmacy Technician, went to the conference center across the street from the hospital, where a large vaccination operation was underway in the lobby. Two hours later, both father and daughter received a dose.
Vella said “lucky and relieved,” he said.
Van Dusen said that if DSHS vaccinates to ensure that “everyone understands priorities and what the obligations are at this point, then DSHS will comply.”
It will be widely available to most Texans in the months preceding the vaccine. Health officials have said that people should wear masks, wash hands frequently and practice social distance. They also say that vaccinated people can still carry and spread the virus.
Hundreds of thousands of people have been vaccinated nationally since last week. But some hiccups have occurred. Stanford Medicine residents who work in close contact with COVID-19 patients survived the first wave of staff members for the Pfx vaccine. In their place were high-grade doctors who are at low risk of patient transmission, ProPublica reported last week. The hospital apologized and vowed to do better.
DHR Health gave its last dose on Sunday afternoon, Martinez said. Their priority with each new vaccine shipment, would be to introduce it to any front-line, DHR Health medical workers it had not received the first time. But he wouldn’t wait long before going for the next person in the line.
He said, “Every day I store that vaccine in a freezer or someone else who dies.”