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How one Texas couple handled COVID-19 vaccine delays

Michelle and Dell Billings drove nearly 100 miles for their first dose.

BRAZOS COUNTY, Texas — One day late – that was the delay for 55 providers that were supposed to get the COVID-19 vaccine on Monday. Instead, they will get the Pfizer doses on Tuesday.

And as counties continue their struggles with vaccine delays, Michelle and Dell Billings took matters into their own hands.

In Austin and around the country, we've seen people in long lines, waiting to get the COVID-19 vaccine shot.

But in College Station, home to Texas A&M University, and just under 100 miles west of Austin, that shot is not an option.

With elderly parents, both cancer survivors, and hospital capacity an issue, the Billings said they had to find the vaccine. The couple got to work, signing up on several waitlists.

Both qualify under the Ib group.

"We're on a couple of lists here in Brazos County. We are on a list in Bexar County, where San Antonio is. We're on lists in Tarrant and Dallas County up in the DFW area. We've tried for Harris County and we literally lucked out when we were searching different counties and got appointments," Michelle Billings said.

Appointments in Temple, a city in Bell County, just under 90 miles from College Station. Temple is about 70 miles north of Austin.    

On Sunday, they drove an hour-and-a-half for Michelle's first dose.

"They were organized. They were efficient. They were quick," Michelle said.

But Dell's appointment was delayed.

"I received communication that the vaccine may not be available at the time that my appointment was scheduled for," he explained.

On Monday afternoon, we found out why.

It read, "Bell County Health officials have still not received the second shipment of COVID-19 vaccines as expected. As a result, Bell County officials are in the process of rescheduling those individuals expecting to receive their vaccine on Tuesday. We ask that you go to your scheduled vaccine location sometime between 9 a.m. and 8 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 20. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause."

Dell's appointment is now on Wednesday. A small inconvenience for what the Billings hope to be a life-saving measure.

KVUE reached out to the Texas Department of State Health Services to see how residents travelling outside their own counties would affect vaccine doses. According to a spokesperson, "A condition of being a vaccination hub is that they had to vaccinate people coming from other counties. We’ve vaccinated someone in every county even though we haven’t been able to send vaccine to providers in every county."

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