At-risk residents next in line for virus vaccine


Burnet County residents — especially those over 65 or who carry additional health risks are still waiting to find out when they can start receiving doses of one of the two COVID-19 vaccines currently approved by the Food & Drug Administration.

Last month, the State Department of Health Services confirmed the county had been allocated 1,300 doses of the Moderna vaccine, with 600 doses shipped to Baylor Scott & White Medical Center Marble Falls; 300 doses shipped to Ascension Seton Highland Lakes Hospital in Burnet; 200 doses to Atkins Pharmacy in Marble Falls; and 100 doses each sent to the H-E-B pharmacies in Marble Falls and Burnet.

However, these first doses are slated to be ad-ministered to those identified as being in Phase 1A: healthcare professionals; first responders; those whose jobs bring them in direct contact with vulnerable and high-risk patients, including home health care and hospice workers; pharmacy staff; residents living in longterm care facilities; and last responders who provide mortuary or death services to COVID-19 patients.

Administration of some of these doses began late last month as the first shipments arrived. H-E-B indicated on its corporate website the company has “requested another allocation of vaccine from the state of Texas.

“Our initial allocation has either already been distributed or is scheduled to be administered,” H-E-B said in a statement. “Many of our H-E-B

Pharmacy locations are still working through waitlists for healthcare providers

“We are awaiting another allocation of vaccine from the state of Texas so we can continue to vaccinate healthcare providers as well as begin offering vaccine to those in Phase 1B. Once we have supply, we will activate a scheduler tool on our website so people can schedule an appointment.”

Phase 1B is comprised of people age 65 and older and people age 16 (18 for Moderna vaccine) and older with at least one chronic medical condition putting them at increased risk for severe illness from the novel coronavirus. These conditions may include cancer, heart conditions, chronic kidney disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), severe obesity, pregnancy, solid organ transplantation, sickle cell disease or Type 2 diabetes mellitus.

H-E-B said it has “strong capacity to administer vaccine, however that depends on the quantity of Covid-19 vaccine allocated to us from the state of Texas.

“Following the directive from the state, our pharmacies will vaccinate people identified in Phase 1B if we have doses left after prioritizing healthcare providers in Phase 1A who are waiting to receive the vaccine,” the company said.

A Moderna vaccine vial has 10 doses and once a vial is opened, it must be used within several hours or it loses its efficacy.

Per government guidelines, vaccine providers are directed to not waste doses and can provide remaining doses to people who fall within the next priority group when vaccine is available. However, an appointment must be scheduled to receive the Covid-19 vaccine as H-E-B pharmacies will not accept walk-ins, the company said.

Kevin Atkins, owner of Atkins Pharmacy, said the business had received 200 doses late Monday, Dec. 28, and they “have given or are scheduled to give all of it to healthcare workers and first responders.”

“We are currently waiting on 100 more doses that has been allocated to us, but has not shipped yet,” Atkins said. “And I am not certain what the planned ship date is as of now, but my best guess is we will get it by the end of week.”

In a corporate statement, Baylor Scott & White said that while they will provide vaccines to patients and members of the community, “we are currently working on vaccinating our healthcare workers, those frontline colleagues who have been fighting on the frontlines of the pandemic for more than 10 months. The health of our team members is critical to our ability to continue delivering safe care in the communities we serve.

“Immediately after our healthcare workers are vaccinated, we will begin immunizing patients and community members in phase 1B — those 65 and older and over 16 with certain medical conditions; however, the timing will be dependent on vaccine supply,” the hospital company said in a statement.

“The Texas Department of State Health Services determines allocations, and we are working closely with state leaders to secure more allocation so that we can vaccinate our remaining healthcare workers and begin the process of immunizing patients and community members. Additional phases will be determined by the Texas Department of State Health Services based on guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).”

Burnet County Judge James Oakley said Monday in a statement that the county “does not have purview on how or when the vaccines will be distributed.”

For more information about distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine in Burnet County, you can call:

• Baylor Scott & White Marble Falls, 830-201-8000;

• Ascension Seton Highland Lakes, 512-715-3000;

• Atkins Pharmacy, 830-693-2972;

• H-E-B Pharmacy Marble Falls, 830-693-4810; or

• H-E-B Pharmacy Burnet, 512-715-0701.