The Montebello condominium complex in downtown Houston bills itself as one of the city’s “luxury skyscrapers” with amenities like valet parking, concierge service, and a swimming pool. Recently, it added a new benefit: COVID-19 vaccines for its elderly residents.
As healthcare workers and seniors across the country struggle to get their hands on a COVID-19 vaccine in the first wave of inoculations, the Montebello seems to have gotten it.
About 60 residents of the upscale condo complex have been vaccinated, the building’s general manager told The Daily Beast on Thursday, although they are not on the Texas public vaccine distribution list.
“The state of Texas authorized it,” said Montebello general manager Daniel Hancock. “We are working with a distributor … it’s a blessing that we were able to get it.”
Hancock declined to tell the Daily Beast the name of the distributor, but said the building was eligible to receive the vaccines due to its large elderly population.
The Texas Department of Health did not respond to requests for comment on the arrangement.
Asked about reports the Montebellos are vaccinating their residents against COVID-19, a spokesperson for the City of Houston’s health department said he was not aware of it.
“All distributors must register with the state health department,” spokesman Porfirio Villareal said. “The apartment complex is not an approved supplier. If a site is not approved, is not listed, and receives vaccine shipments, we recommend that you do not visit that site. “
The Montebello is not on the state’s list of vaccine recipients – which lists hospitals, pharmacies, local health departments, and healthcare-only clinics – or shown on the state’s map of vaccine recipients. locations of vaccine suppliers.
David Fink, 68, was one of the residents of Montebello to be vaccinated. He had received his flu shot in the building and was happy to learn that he was eligible for the coronavirus shot, given his age.
“Everything was on top of the board,” he told the Daily Beast.
Both Fink and Hancock have said they have heard of other apartment buildings in the Houston area receiving the vaccine.
“We weren’t the first,” Hancock said. “It’s not just skyscrapers.”
Statewide, the rollout of the two FDA-cleared COVID-19 vaccines – produced by Pfizer and Moderna – has not gone as smoothly as it has for Montebello.
Texas was allotted 1.2 million doses for the first three weeks, but on Tuesday Gov. Greg Abbott said that “a significant portion of the vaccines distributed across Texas could be on hospital shelves in Canada. instead of being given to vulnerable Texans ”.
“The state urges vaccine suppliers to promptly provide all vaccines. We get a lot more every week ” he wrote on Twitter.
Later on Tuesday, the state announced that vaccinations could begin immediately for people over 65. The move goes against guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which recommend that vaccines be assigned only to health workers and residents of long-term care facilities. .
However, the ultimate decision of who gets vaccinated – and when – rests with individual states. And, as the Houston Chronicle Many distributors reported Thursday have already hit their allotment, leaving most older Texans struggling to find a place to give them a chance.
“Unfortunately, the truth is that the vaccine is NOT currently available to the vast majority of Texans aged 65 and over,” Gina Hinojosa, a representative of the Democratic State of Austin, wrote on Twitter on Wednesday.
A former state official, Jason Villalba, discovered it firsthand. “I have parents over the age of 65, one with co-morbid conditions, and I lost my grandfather to COVID,” he tweeted. “We called all the establishments near us on the [state health department] graph and all said they had no vaccines.
Tony Dasher, professor at the Feik School of Pharmacology at the University of the Incarnate Word of San Antonio, said he “would have no problem” if the vaccine was distributed to areas with a higher concentration of residents. older, like the Montebello, although they are not traditional nursing homes.
“There are several communities that target retirees, and you can have a large group of people over 65,” Dasher told The Daily Beast. “It makes a lot more sense that you have the vaccine and can get it to them, rather than having them all in a grocery store or pharmacy and waiting for people to deliver them.
Across the country, the vaccine rollout has been slow and confusing.
In El Paso, city officials were forced this week to explain how some people who did not meet eligibility criteria were able to get vaccinated at a zoo, while in New York City, a health care provider health was caught administering products obtained “fraudulently”. vaccines for non-essential patients.
Even hospitals missed the triage: More than 100 nurses and doctors protested at Stanford University Medical Center after an algorithm determined that hospital executives would be vaccinated first.
According to Bloomberg News immunization tracker, just over 3 million doses of the vaccine had been administered by the end of 2020, significantly exceeding expectations as lack of federal guidelines and distribution capabilities raised concerns expiration of vaccines.
“I think people are going to have high expectations about the availability of the vaccine, like ‘It has been delivered, why can’t I get it yet? “But that won’t be the case for a while.”
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