Vaccinating Texas: Continued Frustration For Some, Guilt For Others

Vaccine eligibility opened up for more Texans this week. But for many, the process of signing up is still confounding.

By Laura RiceMarch 19, 2021 1:15 pm,

Texas Standard is collecting stories from across the state about individual journeys to getting COVID-19 vaccinations. We want to hear the positive as well as the negative. If you’re currently eligible or are trying to secure a vaccine for an eligible loved one, share your story here.

Right now, about 10% of Texans are fully vaccinated and around 20% have had at least one shot. Phase 1C expands access to Texans age 50 to 64, but Texas Standard continues to hear stories from those in Phase 1B.

SEE MORE: Texas Standard’s Vaccinating Texas, Part One

Martha Frazier, 34, Austin: First dose

Frazier has chronic asthma that she says makes it hard to breathe “even on a good day.” She has been trying for months to sign up for a vaccine because she’s very concerned about getting COVID-19.

It’s like this impossible thing because there’s so many different lists. And I feel like every time I turn on the news or every time I Google it and see, like, where I’m supposed to sign up this time, there’s some new list that I’m supposed to apply for and that website that Texas has where it tells you how many vaccine doses are available and in which locations is never right.”

She says she cried out of sheer relief when she finally got her first shot. But she’s still frustrated that the appointment she ended up with wasn’t through any of her hard work or attempts to follow the process as laid out. It was through a friend who inadvertently booked two appointments.

It was all … ‘baloney’ is the word I’m going to use, because this is going to be on the radio. Essentially, it’s all just it feels like it’s all a lie, like, you know, it’s just complete chaos. And all of the things that they tell us to do are useless.”

Monique B., 38, San Antonio: Vaccinated
Jacqueline D., 85, San Antonio: First dose scheduled

Monique has also experienced frustration, and not just for herself, but because she’s also been trying to sign up her grandmother, Jacqueline. Jacqueline’s first language is Vietnamese.

“It’s very hard for people to understand her, especially over the phone. And she doesn’t drive … so that’s been a struggle because she can’t do any of this on her own. So I’ve been the one to hunt it down for her. And she’s 85, so she doesn’t have email, she doesn’t have a cell phone, she just has a landline.”

SEE MORE: Vaccinating Texas, Part Two

Dallas Schwab, 26, Dallas: Vaccinated

Schwab was eligible under Phase 1B because of his body mass index. He says he was reluctant to embrace that but decided to follow the advice of doctors. Still, he feels conflicted that others whom he considers more at risk have yet to receive the shot. He’s also conflicted about his decision to make the trip to Amarillo to get vaccinated after having trouble finding an appointment closer to home.

“There’s something strange about having the means to fly out to a different part of the state to get your vaccine against the ‘plague’ when it feels like a lot of other people don’t have that kind of privilege.”

But he says, while there, the vaccine clinic’s director made an announcement that made him feel better.

“She said that people shouldn’t second-guess themselves if they’re eligible for the vaccine because it’s important that anyone who’s eligible, go out and get it.”

Scott Riggle, 30, Plano: Vaccinated

Middle school teacher Scott Riggle struggled with similar questions. He actually got his vaccine with the folks in Phase 1A because his wife works for a hospital system that had more doses than it could use.

After I received it, though, it was very much like, OK, do I tell people? I felt guilty that I wasn’t in a high-risk area.”

It’s not an easy calculation. And, as we move beyond the 20% vaccination rate, it may be one more people start making. 

 “I did it for my wife, for my daughter, for my fellow teachers, for my students and really for my students, because they’re under the age of 16; they can’t receive the vaccine yet. So for them, for me doing my part and getting the vaccine, I’m protecting them from COVID as well, from exposing them, hopefully. And if we all do our part to help others, we’re going to get out of this much faster.”

SEE MORE: Vaccinating Texas, Part Three.

Jamie Baird, 40, El Paso: First dose

Baird has been sharing her struggles to book an appointment for the COVID-19 vaccine since late January. Just last week, she was finally able to receive her first dose.

Elida and Wilfredo Torres, 70s, Austin: Vaccinated and first dose

Luke Stonecipher, 29, Austin: Vaccinated

Max Weiss, 93, Austin: First dose

Edwina Baethge, 77, San Marcos: First dose

Tom Phillips, 67, Austin: First dose

Margaret, 76, Austin: First dose

Albert Scherbarth, 66, Dallas County: Vaccinated

Linda Cuellar, 66, Pipe Creek: Vaccinated

Lori Jacques, 39, El Paso: Vaccinated

Oscar and Sue, 80s, Dallas County: Vaccinated

Doug Ramey, 60, Fort Worth: Vaccinated

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