Valley health authorities concerned about residents skipping second vaccine shot
Health authorities in Hidalgo and Starr counties say the reason they're seeing vaccine leftovers is because vaccine recipients are skipping out on their second shot.
Starr County Health Authority Dr. Antonio Falcon says he's received reports of residents not showing up to their COVID-19 vaccination dates and he says that can wreak havoc on the schedule of COVID-19 vaccinations.
“There can only be a certain amount of vials open for a certain amount of time, otherwise the vials spoil,” Dr. Falcon said. “But there's also a manpower issue."
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Dr. Falcon says another issue when residents don't attend their appointments is that the site is left scrambling to figure out who ultimately gets a vaccine—and communication with those patients can be tricky at times.
Meanwhile in Hidalgo County, Health and Human Services Department Chief Administrative Officer Eddie Olivarez says that handling vaccinations is a lot of work, but that they follow a plan to make sure the county uses every dose by saving the unopened leftovers for a different vaccination clinic.
“We've timed it that we know we're going to end this clinic at a certain time and usually about an hour and a half ahead of time, we count how many vaccines are still on the tables with the nurses and we project the line count and we actually give a cut-off,” Olivarez said. “Because that way, we don't want to open a vial and no one shows up, and then that would be a waste. So, we're making very clear boundaries on that."
Both Falcon and Olivarez say if a patient has called multiple health agencies before securing a vaccine appointment, they also need to be responsible and call the others to cancel their place on the COVID-19 waiting list.
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