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Unexpected COVID-19 Vaccine Delays Are Affecting Pharmacies in Collin County

Last week state health officials announced the next wave of people may now receive the long-awaited COVID-19 vaccines.

Last week state health officials announced the next wave of people may now receive the long-awaited COVID-19 vaccines. The new group, phase “1B,”  includes people 65 or older and people 16 or older who have chronic illnesses like cancer, sickle cell disease, or COPD.

The news arrives on the heels of a Wednesday briefing by President Trump's Operation Warp Speed. Those officials acknowledged that the roll out of the vaccine is slower than they hoped for, according to a New York Times Dec. 30 report. They claimed a number of reasons why this may be happening from the holidays to slow roll outs by healthcare facilities. It seems healthcare officials are still learning how to store the vaccine at low temperatures.

Another reason involved states setting aside COVID-19 vaccine doses for people at long-term care facilities. They expect those roll outs to take several months.

The Texas Department of State Health Services is coordinating which facilities will distribute the vaccines. The agency published an interactive map that shows which hospitals, pharmacies, and nursing homes that have doses available to eligible people. It listed about a half-dozen pharmacies across Collin County on the map as of Wednesday.

But the places where people in Collin County can go to find the vaccines are still waiting for shipments or for the state's approval to distribute the vaccines.

So where is it?

As with the first wave, the supply for the vaccines lags behind massive demand for it. Interest groups and lobbyists are vying for the vaccines. Everybody from federal judges to Uber drivers have asked state officials for access to it.

Medical City McKinney and Medical City Plano were some of the first facilities to receive the vaccines in Collin County. Texas Health Resources announced independently that it would distribute thousands of doses to front-line care workers.

Reached by phone, McKinney Pharmacy said it will offer patients the vaccine when it receives shipments. No word on when its first shipment will arrive, a staff member said Wednesday. Across town, Beaker Pharmacy had not received doses either.

SandsRx Pharmacy in Wylie, however, said the vaccine was out of stock

Some pharmacies like City Drug in Van Alstyne have applied with state health officials for the vaccines. They're still waiting on approval or for specifics as to when trucks will be dropping off the first doses.

The chain pharmacies — CVS Health and Walmart — will offer the vaccines across the nation. The state already approved those pharmacies for the first round of the vaccines. CVS and Walmart, along with Brookshire’s pharmacy, are administering the vaccines for eligible people in Anna.

Yet, Brookshire’s pharmacy only has "allocated" doses at this time. “We do not have information on when our next shipment will arrive,” the automated voice on the line says.

A Collin County Health Care Services spokesperson said Wednesday that health officials do not know when the county’s pharmacies will receive their shipments of the vaccines.

Holding the line

Collin County Health Care Services started administering it doses to the latest round of patients Thursday morning. By midday the county health department had about 525 doses remaining with about 700 people on a waiting list, Collin County Judge Chris Hill office said in a news release Thursday afternoon.

"And it is likely that Collin County Health Care Services will be out of the vaccine early next week based on the current waiting list," Judge Hill said.

The health department, he added, was not clear on when it would receive additional vaccines from the state.

The county received 1,000 doses on Monday, according to the judge's office.

Though there is a waiting list, people in Collin County can get in line by calling 214-491-4804 and scheduling an appointment with the health department.

Hope for early next year

At the Wednesday Operation Warp Speed briefing, OWS scientific adviser Moncef Slaoui, scientific said they should have done better to meet their 20 million vaccinated end of the year goal.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that only 2.6 million people have been vaccinated, according to the Times report.

Operation Warp Speed officials claimed that doses will accelerate once major pharmacy chains like CVS and Walmart make the COVID-19 vaccine available. "What we should be looking at is the rate of acceleration over the coming weeks, and I hope it will be in the right direction," Slaoui said.

State health officials recommend people call a pharmacy ahead of time to make sure they have doses available.