Texas to expand COVID-19 vaccine eligibility to all adults March 29

Tuesday, March 23, 2021

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By: Olivia Aldrige - Community Impact

Beginning March 29, all Texas adults will be eligible to receive a vaccine for COVID-19, the Texas Department of State Health Services announced March 23. According to the DSHS, the state's Expert Vaccine Allocation Panel recommended the shift because they expect vaccine supply to increase next week.

“We are closing in on 10 million doses administered in Texas, and we want to keep up the momentum as the vaccine supply increases,” said Imelda Garcia, DSHS associate commissioner for laboratory and infectious disease services and the chair of the Expert Vaccine Allocation Panel, in a news release.

Previously, only adults in certain priority groups were able to access the vaccine in most circumstances. Those groups include health care workers, older adults, people with high-risk health conditions, and school and child care workers.

While any adult will be eligible to register for a vaccine, the DSHS has asked vaccine providers to prioritize "people who are most at risk of severe disease, hospitalization and death," including seniors over the age of 80.

The local health authority for Austin-Travis County, Dr. Mark Escott, emphasized many in the expanded pool of eligible patients may still have to wait.

"We are still going to have a much smaller amount of vaccine than people who want vaccine," Escott said at a March 23 meeting. "We're going to have to focus efforts in particular ares and on particular groups to ensure that we are achieving the best public health outcome."

With the expansion will come a new method of signing up for vaccine appointments, the DSHS said: Starting next week, the agency's Texas Public Health Vaccine Scheduler website will aggregate appointments from public health providers across the state.

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