East Texans struggle to find available doses of COVID-19 vaccine

Dallas couple travels to Tyler to get vaccinated after having trouble finding doses in metroplex

East Texans struggle to find available doses of COVID-19 vaccine
COVID-19 vaccine (Source: KLTV)

TYLER, Texas (KLTV) - An East Texas member of the state’s vaccination advisory panel says the COVID-19 vaccine supply has not met demand, and available appointments at area vaccine clinics are being filled in a matter of hours. But it seems things could be worse, as some folks are having an easier time getting the shot here in East Texas.

“We’re thrilled that our salvation is out in the country, away from the nasty big city,” said Max Levy.

Levy and his wife, Debra, traveled from Dallas to Tyler on Wednesday morning to get their first dose of the vaccine. The couple struggled to find a place to get the shot in Dallas, and heard about the clinic at UT Health Science Center from a friend.

“We really want to see our two kids we haven’t seen in about a year,” Mrs. Levy said. “It’s the longest we’ve ever gone without seeing our children.”

The drive was much shorter for M.L. and Cheryl Carlton. They came to Tyler from Kilgore after also having trouble finding a vaccination location.

‘I’m in one of the high risk groups because I’m over 65,” Mr. Carlton said. “I’ve had pneumonia a couple of times and I’m also asthmatic so I thought it’d be the best thing to do.”

The couple said they were on multiple waiting lists to get the vaccine.

“This one was much easier to try to sign up,” Mrs. Carlton said. “I had gone through some others and you could just see the appointments vanishing before your eyes before you could ever get your first name in.”

Smith County Health Authority Dr. Paul McGaha sits on the allocation advisory panel that advises the state on where to send doses and to whom. He said as the state now focuses on major vaccination hubs like NET Health’s drive-thru clinic and the one at UT Health Science Center, the hope is for more shots to be given in less time.

“Hopefully that will be a big push,” he said. “And get a lot of people vaccinated and then it can be distributed more uniformly across the state.”

That will give people like the Levys a shot at getting back to normal.

Both of the vaccination hubs in Tyler are currently full, but will be offering more appointments in the coming weeks. The state asks that you please not show up at these locations without having an appointment.

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