Abbott urges speedy vaccinations, says doses 'sitting on hospital shelves'

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) has urged state health officials and hospitals to speed up the distribution of its supplies of COVID-19 vaccines in response to a letter from the state's health commissioner indicating that much of the state's supply has yet to be administered.

In a tweet, Abbott wrote that it was unacceptable for many doses of the vaccine to still be "sitting on hospital shelves as opposed to being given to vulnerable Texans" and added that Texas "urges vaccine providers to quickly provide all shots."

"We get plenty more each week," he said.

His tweet came in a response to a letter released by the Texas Department of Emergency Management from John Hellerstedt, the state's health commissioner, who wrote this week that a "significant portion" of the state's vaccination supply had yet to be distributed.

"We also know that every day a vaccine sits on the shelf is another day that prolongs the pandemic that is hindering our state's economy and way of life," Hellerstedt wrote, adding: "We trust that you know your situation far better than we could, so we ask you to take the initiative and push forward aggressively with administering all the vaccine dose you have received."

The COVID-19 outbreak in Texas continues to worsen. State officials reported 26,990 new confirmed COVID-19 cases on Tuesday, the highest single-day total the state has recorded so far, while also setting a record for new hospitalizations in a single day from the virus.

Health experts have warned that hospital systems around the country may be stressed beyond capacity in the coming weeks due to a surge of COVID-19 infections resulting from the holiday season.