Peterson Health vaccinated 460 people on Thursday and 1,060 on Saturday, said spokeswoman Lisa Winters. Menchaca is on a team of Peterson Health employees who meet weekly and work to get more vaccine doses and make sure the vaccines they do have are administered. Members of the team who The Kerrville Daily Times interviewed this week expressed frustration with the difficulty in getting more doses.
“We are vaccinating as quickly as we can get the vaccine,” said Kim Menchaca, director of patient access at Peterson Health. It’s not clear why Kerr County isn’t getting more doses; Stehling said there’s no shortage of the vaccine in the state. Neither she nor anyone else on the team could say why Kerr County doesn’t get more doses or why the county wasn’t considered a hub for the purposes of distributing the vaccine to surrounding areas.
“It’s been a struggle,” echoed Cory Edmondson, Peterson Health CEO, during a meeting of the vaccine team this week. A Kerr County press release this week stated that 9,900 doses had been allocated to local providers so far, but only 4,392 residents were “fully vaccinated,” as the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines require two doses per person to be considered protective.
“We’re asking for much more; we’re just not getting it,” said Barbara Stehling, director of quality at Peterson Health and also a member of the vaccine team. Gillespie and Uvalde counties are hubs, and Kerr County residents can sign up to receive vaccines in those counties if they can’t get them locally.
Edmondson, members of the Peterson Health board and local elected officials have reached out to legislators, state agencies and others who might be able to get more doses to Kerr County. A 17-member, governor-appointed committee is tasked with choosing how the doses are allocated weekly. This entity, the Texas Expert Vaccine Allocation Panel, as well as TDEM and lawmakers are lobbied regularly by Peterson Health for vaccine doses.
Vaccine eligibility expanded to include people 50 to 64 years of age on March 15, according to a TDSHS press release. “Peterson has been proactive about this,” Edmondson said. “We are happy for our neighboring counties who have received ample allotments, but we are concerned by the disproportionate amount Kerr County has received,” states a March 12 letter from Edmondson to the expert vaccine panel, Texas Department of State Health Services and legislators. “I’m sure you are aware of our demographics: 27% of the population is 65+ (14,780 residents). This is roughly 2X the Texas average. Our population is more vulnerable than most. We are your most efficient place to expedite the vaccine in the Hill Country. We can help Texas rank better than 38th nationally in vaccine distribution/administered percentage, which is at 72.52%.”
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