He also gave an update on statewide COVID-19 vaccination efforts.
The governor said Harris County has administered the most COVID-19 vaccines in Texas by far. Houston Methodist has been the state’s biggest provider.
Abbott was joined by TDEM Chief Nim Kidd, DSHS Commissioner Dr. John Hellerstedt, UT System Executive Vice Chancellor for Health Affairs Dr. John Zerwas and Houston Methodist President and CEO Dr. Marc Boom.
Boom said the hospital is also working to deliver vaccines directly to communities hardest hit by the virus.
“We’ve identified ZIP codes that are more socially vulnerable with low socio-economic status, and high levels that are below the federal poverty line. ZIP codes that are highly affected by COVID. We’ll look at some of those areas and essentially almost double invite into those areas to drive vaccine uptake in those hard-hit areas,” Boom said.
During the press conference held at Houston Methodist, Abbott called out CVS and Walgreens for the slow delivery of vaccines to nursing homes.
“While Texas is now administering 78% of vaccines, Walgreens and CVS are only at 26% of their vaccine administrations,” Abbott said. “We as a state continue to insist that Walgreens and CVS pick up their pace.”
CVS provided the following statement Tuesday:
“We believe to simply use allocation to measure the success of the state’s long-term care vaccine program is misplaced and doesn’t paint a full picture of the program’s progress. The federal government determines weekly vaccine allotments based on facility bed count and then doubles that for facility staffing, so vaccine allocations for CVS are merely an estimate. Occupancy is far less than bed count, and staff uptake has been lower than expected. Moreover, allotment must also take into account the required two doses for each patient that must be administered weeks apart for the vaccine to be clinically effective, per the manufacturer.
"This is why looking at the number of vaccine clinics we have completed at each facility provides a more accurate assessment of the significant progress we are making within the program parameters, as agreed to by the state.
"Since Texas first activated the program on 12/28, we will complete first doses for all 581 skilled-nursing facilities who have chosen to partner with CVS Health by 1/21, bringing peace of mind to thousands of long-term care residents, staff and their loved ones. And we have completed 73% of the 1,431 assisted living and other facilities with whom we are honored to serve.”
Walgreens sent this statement in response to Abbott’s comments:
“While we know there are and will be bumps along the way that impact vaccine distribution and administration, we are committed to adapting our processes to help meet the needs of our communities and the patients we serve. This is a monumental effort and Walgreens is proud to help roll out the COVID-19 vaccine and be a part of this complex undertaking. We have completed first dose vaccinations at the 483 skilled nursing facilities in Texas we have contracted to serve and have completed first dose vaccination clinics at nearly 600 of 900 assisted living facilities in the state we are also contracted to serve. We are moving to complete these in a timely fashion.”