When vaccines for COVID-19 started to become available in late 2020, demand for the shots far exceeded supply.
Now, the inverse is true. About 35% of Texans are fully vaccinated, but the vaccines aren’t as highly sought-after as they were a few months ago. Instead, hospitals and pharmacies have had to throw out expired vaccines at an increasing rate, according to the Houston Chronicle.
The shift in demand has led to a change in how the Texas Department of State Health Services, or DSHS, distributes vaccines to providers. Initially, because supply was limited, the department would take the lead and allocate the vaccines it received from the federal government to individual providers. But now it leaves it to the providers to request what they need.
“A couple of weeks ago, we shifted to where providers just order what they need for that particular week. And so we are no longer allocating to providers; they simply tell us the amount that they want and then we help facilitate that,” said Imelda Garcia, chair of the state’s COVID-19 Expert Vaccine Allocation Panel.
Garcia tells Texas Standard that DSHS is also trying to minimize waste by helping providers share vaccines with one another. They’re also looking for opportunities to administer vaccines outside of a typical setting, like at a bar or a restaurant.
“We want [providers] to be creative in taking vaccines to different venues in order to make it attractive to folks that may have something else on their mind,” Garcia said. “While they’re out and about, they’re able to get vaccinated at the same time.”