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Photo by Gabriel C. Pérez/KUT

Both of Austin’s Covid-19 vaccine ‘hub’ providers are struggling to fill appointments

Friday, April 16, 2021 by Ashley Lopez, KUT

UT’s Dell Medical School (along with UT Health) and Austin Public Health are reporting issues getting people signed up to be vaccinated against Covid-19.

Both organizations were designated by the state as “hub” providers. The state created the hub model so larger organizations  a couple dozen across Texas  could vaccinate a lot of people at once.

APH and UT were getting thousands of vaccines shipped every week, while other providers, like pharmacies and stores, received much fewer. But lately, both groups say there has been a decrease in demand.

On Monday, APH officials opened 14,000 appointment slots, but filled only about 3,400.

Susan Hochman, associate director for assessment, communications and health information technology at UT Austin’s University Health Services department, said UT is facing similar issues.

“We are seeing a decrease in demand (not filling all appointment slots) but not to the same degree as APH had indicated,” she wrote in an email to KUT. “We are going to be making some changes to our operations soon to improve access, such as offering more walk-up opportunities. The details are still being fleshed out.”

APH officials said they are also looking at changing their system.

State health officials said Thursday that providers across Texas are asking to be shipped fewer doses.

Imelda Garcia, an associate commissioner with the Texas Department of State Health Services, said the state is still vaccinating a lot of people week by week, but some providers are having a harder time signing people up.

“As we have seen different providers tell us that they would like reduced allocations or no allocations for a couple of weeks, we are honoring those requests,” she said.

Garcia said she thinks there is still a large demand for Covid vaccines in Texas. During a briefing with reporters, she said it’s possible people are getting vaccine appointments from different kinds of providers than earlier vaccinated populations did.

This story was produced as part of the Austin Monitor’s reporting partnership with KUT.

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