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Hospital workers get second dose of COVID-19 vaccine while millions of Texans struggle to find their first

The first North Texans to receive the coronavirus vaccine in December are now getting their second booster shot.

DALLAS — Chad Bush documented December 14 with a selfie.

"4th person in North Texas to take the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine," read his tweet.

Monday, January 4, he got his second dose.

This time there was no masked selfie, but he did tweet a picture of a sticker that read, "I got my COVID-19 vaccine."

“This has been the longest three weeks of my life,” Bush said Monday night, adding that he felt no side effects from the booster shot he received that morning.

“I feel great,” he said.

Methodist Dallas Medical Center was the first hospital in North Texas to receive a shipment of the Pfizer vaccine, and it was being distributed within hours of its arrival.

It stands to reason that Methodist’s staff would, three weeks later, become the first to receive their follow up booster shot.

RELATED: ‘It brings a lot of hope’: First North Texans to receive coronavirus vaccine call it a step toward normalcy

While second doses of the vaccine were being distributed at Methodist in Dallas, millions of vulnerable Texans, including Bush’s 78-year-old mother who lives with him in Oak Cliff, are still trying to figure out how to get a first dose.

“We’ve just started trying to figure out a way for her to get the vaccine,” he said. “I don’t think any of us have a good grasp of what’s going on.”

It is proving a difficult task to locate a pharmacy or physician’s office giving vaccines to the group Texas designated as 1B – anyone over 65 or with health conditions that make them more vulnerable to a complicated battle with COVID-19.

RELATED: Rural counties ask state for help, answers on vaccine distribution

While hospitals have received thousands of doses, many are still vaccinating workers and they must allocate enough vaccine to be prepared to administer a second dose within 21 to 28 days after the first.

UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas announced Monday it was ready to begin vaccinating patients who are treated at the hospital. Those patients will be notified through their online patient portal when they are eligible to schedule an appointment.

The shipments to public health departments have been uneven across the state, with Tarrant County receiving enough vaccine to open a clinic that is providing shots to residents in group 1B. But Dallas County has not received a shipment large enough to provide that service.

Tarrant County Judge Glen Whitley said he understands the confusion.  

“The CDC and the state put out that we're going to do this through the normal channels - through your doctors, through your pharmacies, things like that. And now I think they're seeing that a better alternative may be these big mass vaccination centers,” Whitley said.

“It’s just a matter of getting the system down and the system in place.”

While Bush feels relieved that he is only a couple weeks away from the vaccine's full effects, he's still anxious about getting a vaccine for his mom.

He's also watched travel increase and case counts soar during the December holidays. 

It has tempered his excitement over the vaccine.

"I'm really worried about what's coming," he said. "My colleagues - we'll be vaccinated, we can care for them. But I'm worried about the next six weeks." 

RELATED: Texas' answer to sign up for a COVID-19 vaccine could be weeks away

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