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Can Texans Get Their 1st And 2nd Doses Of The COVID-19 Vaccine In Different Cities?

The image shows a Spanish language sticker that signals to others that this person has been vaccinated. The image was captured at the Southeast Community Health Center in Fort Worth, on Jan. 22, 2021.
Keren Carrión
/
KERA News
A Tarrant County resident receives their first COVID-19 vaccine shot at the Southeast Community Health Center in Fort Worth, on Jan. 22, 2021.

At the start of the vaccine rollout, limited supplies led many Texans outside of their hometowns to secure a shot. But now that supplies are increasing, can those same individuals score their second doses closer to home?

When COVID-19 vaccines first became available in December, Texas only received 224,250 first doses. Those doses were only allowed to be used on frontline medical workers who worked in hospitals or long-term care facilities.

A couple of weeks later, when state health officials expanded eligibility to include the elderly and other at-risk individuals, the supply grew but not substantially.

Cities like Dallas and Houston — with massive populations north of 6 million — received fewer than 30,000 first doses per week. City leaders pleaded with the Texas Department of State Health Services to get more doses to their residents as quickly as possible.

Still, because Texas allows individuals to sign up for their vaccine anywhere in the state, many Texans took it upon themselves to score their first dose away from their hometowns. That means lots of folks traveled to other cities. But now that the vaccine supply has increased, some of those people want to get their second dose closer to home. But is that possible?

“Our general recommendation is that people get vaccinated close to home and then get their second dose where they got their first. It kind of works out better for everybody that way," said Chris Van Dusen, a spokesman for the Texas Department of State Health Services.

Van Dusen said returning to the vaccine provider who gave you your first dose helps the state allocate the proper number of second doses. "So when we are ordering doses for providers, we automatically order a matching amount of second doses for the provider," he said. "That means that if you go 1,000 first doses of the Pfizer vaccine three weeks ago, you're going to get another 1,000 doses of the second dose this week."

There is no requirement that people go back to the provider they got their first dose from though, Van Dusen said.

"You know, we have asked providers to take care of people who need a second dose," he said. "I think, probably, the vaccine hubs — those large hub providers — are probably people’s best option. Though they could certainly try at other providers too.”

Van Dusen said the most important thing is to get as many Texans fully vaccinated as quickly as possible. He encourages providers to make shots available when possible.

So far, he says, about 85% of all second doses of the COVID-19 vaccine administered in Texas have been given out by the same providers who administered the first doses.

Got a tip? Email Hady Mawajdeh at hady@KERA.org. You can follow Hady on Twitter @hadysauce.

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