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Newswest 9 | Midland, Texas | newswest9.com

DSHS announces private practices in Texas will not be eligible for the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine in the first round

Now it's a waiting game for family medicine doctors like Doug Cochran. He applied for the vaccine months ago and hopes to distribute it to patients in early 2021.

MIDLAND, Texas — Help is on the way, literally. The first batch of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines are en route to West Texas, just 109 hospitals will receive the vaccine next week.

Midland Memorial is the only hospital in our region to get the vaccine. The state is sending just under 2,000 vials.

Many private doctors have spent months applying for the vaccine through the state, hoping to get it in the first phase. The Texas Department of State Health Services announced Monday that private practices will not be included in the initial phase of vaccine distribution.

Midland family medicine doctor P. Douglas Cochran is one of the many who applied for the vaccine. He says it's a tedious process.

“The Texas State Health Department is guiding this and they want to know every detail about our ability," Cochran said.

The state wants to know details on everything from the practice's patient population to the tools available to monitor the vaccine and everything in between. 

While Dr. Chochran will not be able to distribute the vaccine in this first round, he is planning on getting it. He tells us many private doctors will take the vaccine in the first round. 

Staff at Cochran's office have been working to ensure they are ready when they do get the green light for distribution. Dr. Cochran has ordered a ultra-low freezer needed to store the Pfizer vaccine.

But just like with other COVID-19 supplies, demand is high and supply is low. Not to mention the cost.

“Anybody who wants to have this vaccine such as me, has to have an ultra-low freezer and the constraint there is cost," Cochran said. "These things cost anywhere from $5 -10,000 dollars for just a one-foot freezer. A full kitchen-grade freezer can be around $36-60,000 dollars."

If that is the price to save lives, Dr. Cochran says it is worth it.

“I will encourage anybody in my family and all my patients to take it," Cochran said. "In my 30 years as a scientist and my 21 years as a licensed medical provider, I have never seen anyone die of a vaccine. In the last few weeks, I’ve been to three funerals for people who have died from COVID-19.”

As for those who doubt the vaccine...perhaps a few words of experience from a seasoned doctor could convince you:

“After you might be a little achy, get some headaches maybe for a day but that’s nothing like a case of what COVID could be," Cochran said. "I recently recovered from a bad case of COVID myself and I will take this vaccine as quick as I possibly can to avoid that.”

Dr. Chocran anticipates private practitioners will be able to distribute the vaccine in early 2021. No specific date has been given.