Harlingen, Texas (KVEO)—Senator Eddie Lucio Jr. issued a statement on Monday explaining why he received a vaccine by Doctors Hospital Renaissance over the weekend.
According to DHR, numerous hospital employees who qualified to receive the new COVID-19 vaccine declined to receive it.
DHR received a total of 5,850 of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine on Dec. 15. According to state guidelines, front line health care workers were determined to be the first to receive the vaccine.
Lucio said DHR administered as many vaccines as possible to their Tier A1 eligible workers, and that “a surplus vaccine had to be either administered or destroyed.”
As a result, DHR invited public safety employees and public servants to be vaccinated.
A photojournalist, working for The Texas Tribune, photographed Lucio receiving the vaccination.
After the picture of Lucio getting the vaccine was published, questions surfaced. Chris Van Deusen, a spokesperson for the Texas Department of State Health Services, told the Texas Tribune lawmakers are not eligible for the vaccine in this first round, unless they are health care workers.
“I find it shocking that there is growing concern over the COVID-19 vaccine. I believe it is the key for our state to significantly reduce the number of infections and deaths, and I hope that by demonstrating to everyone that there is nothing to fear, I can help set the tone for getting vaccinated so that more Texans will accept the vaccine as it becomes available,” Lucio said in a written statement.
The Texas Department of State Health Services announced Monday, Texans who are 65 years old and older, and those who are at least 16 years of age with certain chronic medical conditions, will be next in line for the COVID-19 vaccine.
However, state health officials said that Texas is weeks away from transitioning to this next phase of vaccine distribution.
During a virtual press conference held by Starr County officials on Tuesday, Health Authority Dr. Antonio Falcon, addressed the controversy involving Lucio.
“As a result of this controversy, I have had two patients call me and asked me if they are going to get in trouble if they get vaccinated,” said Falcon. ” The demand of the vaccine in DHR was not as expected.”
Falcon said as a result, DHR changed their plans and made the vaccine available to other members from Doctor’s Hospital.
“I was in particular, one of those. I was asked Thursday morning to go and get vaccinated,” said Falcon.
Falcon argued that Lucio has certain medical conditions, and underwent heart surgery at some point in his life.
“He was not Eddie Lucio the politician when he got vaccinated, he was Eddie Lucio the patient,” said Falcon. “Unless we ran out of immunizations, I urge all of our local providers to follow the recommendations as much as possible, but sometimes we have to bend those rules a little bit.”
“DHR picked someone that was sick and needed the vaccine,” said Falcon. “We need to think about what we are doing. I am at the ground level locally. All I’m saying is that we need to adjust.”
Watch the complete press conference here: