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Texas To Expand COVID-19 Vaccine Eligibility To All Adults Starting March 29

DSHS To Launch Website Where People Can Register For COVID-19 Shot Through Some Public Health Providers

Texas Department of State Health Services and Health and Human Services at 10 a.m. Tuesday, announced that the state’s vaccination plan is expanding again at the end of next week. All adults will be eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine in Texas beginning Monday, March 29.

The Texas Department of State Health Services, in the news release, stated they expect vaccine supplies to increase next week, as providers in multiple parts of the state have made great strides in vaccinating people in the current priority groups. The state’s Expert Vaccine Allocation Panel recommended opening vaccination to everyone who falls under the current Food and Drug Administration emergency use authorizations to protect as many Texans as possible.

“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. “As eligibility opens up, we are asking providers to continue to prioritize people who are the most at risk of severe disease, hospitalization and death – such as older adults.”

In Hopkins County, the state hosted a vaccine clinic last Saturday, offering vaccines to those who register, but the vaccine clinic was open to those age 65 and older, first responders or healthcare professionals, and school nurses and staff. Although the state previously expanded, making those age 50 and up eligible for a shot, only those the earlier categories were able to get it in Hopkins County at the designated locations. Many residents age 65 and older are still reporting difficulties getting an appointment locally to receive a COVID-19 vaccine, due to limited supplies. Some have managed to get appointments in other counties, but that has meant traveling quite a distance, which for some is not an option.

DSHS currently is directing vaccine providers to prioritize people 80 years old or older when scheduling appointments and to accommodate anyone in that age group who presents for vaccination, whether or not they have an appointment, by immediately moving them to the front of the line, to place as small a burden on those age 80 and up as possible.

Also next week, DSHS will launch a website to allow people to register for a shot through some public health providers. The public will be able to enroll in the Texas Public Health Vaccine Scheduler to identify upcoming vaccine clinics hosted by DSHS or a participating local health department and be notified when new clinics and appointments become available. People can continue to find additional providers though the DSHS Vaccine Information page at dshs.texas.gov/covidvaccine.

Local officials had yet to determined what, if any, impact this will have on COVID-19 vaccine availability in Hopkins County, which has a designated Local Health Authority.

According to DSHS, online registration will be the best option for most people. For those for whom that is not an option, DSHS will launch a toll-free number to provide assistance making an appointment with a participating provider or locating another provider that has vaccine available.

To date, Texas has administered more than 9.3 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine, equating to more than 6 million people with at least one dose and more than 3 million fully vaccinated. Most vaccines are authorized for people 18 years old and older; the FDA has authorized the Pfizer vaccine for use in people 16 and older.

According to DSHS, CHRISTUS Mother Frances Hospital-Sulphur Springs was among at least 481 providers in 183 counties allocated first-doses of the COVID-19 vaccine this week. CMFH-SS is slated to receive 500 of the 685,470 doses allocated for distribution this week.

People can find more information on COVID-19 vaccine at dshs.texas.gov/covidvaccine/.

Other COVID-19 Vaccine-Related Links:

Author: Faith Huffman

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