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Local health districts assure COVID-19 vaccine is not sitting around on shelves

State officials are concerned COVID-19 vaccine may be sitting on shelves instead of being given out. Local health districts say that's not the case in Central Texas.

MCLENNAN COUNTY, Texas — State officials may have been worried last week that vaccine doses were sitting on shelves, waiting to be administered, but in Central Texas that doesn't seem to be the case. 

At least not anymore. 

The McLennan County Public Heath District got 200 doses of the Moderna vaccine the day before Christmas Eve. Spokeswoman Kelly Craine said they were thrilled about the arrival, but couldn't start vaccinating until the following Monday. 

Craine said the health district had be very careful to schedule out the doses to make sure none were wasted. They would even try to schedule backups, or last minute fill-ins if needed. 

"We don't want to waste it. We are being very cautious. If someone can't show up or can't show up for whatever reason, we call that agency and say 'So-in-so didn't show up, who else do you have that can come and get it right now,'" Craine said. 

While vaccine can last months in refrigeration, a vial that has been thawed and opened is only good for around seven days Craine said. Each vial can provide multiple doses, so the health district made sure every drop was used before opening the next. It's not the fastest way to operate, but with only 200 doses, and only a vague timeline for getting more, Craine said the wanted to be as careful as possible. 

It's also difficult to schedule the shots beforehand, as providers can get very short notice the vaccine is on the way. Craine said the health district was notified just a few days beforehand they would be getting the vaccine. 

Meanwhile, the Bell County Health District doesn't even have their delivery yet. Director Amanda Robison-Chadwell said last week they still don't have a delivery date yet. 

"We have not received vaccine here but we are expecting perhaps this week or maybe next week we should be getting some. I can't tell you exactly when," Chadwell said last Tuesday in a meeting hosted by Bell County Judge David Blackburn. 

When the Bell County health district does get that vaccine, they will be focused on Phase 1A recipients and not members of the general public that could be eligible in phase 1B. 

Other pharmacies and urgent care facilities in both Bell County and McLennan County have also received the vaccine, though they were typically only given about 100 doses for staff. 

No Central Texas provider has announced being ready for phase 1B as of yet, but Baylor Scott & White Health said Friday it could be very soon. 

“We are also committed to transparency throughout this process so the communities we serve have the latest information, as we near the ability to begin vaccinating segments of the public most at risk,” said Dr. Alejandro Arroliga. 

The public can sign up for update from Baylor Scott and White on this website.