Texas opening vaccines to all adults


Texas officials announced Tuesday the state will open up COVID-19 vaccine availability to all adults next week, as states across the country aim to expand eligibility to the vaccine.

The Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) declared that all adults are eligible to get the vaccine on Monday, per a recommendation from the state’s Expert Vaccine Allocation Panel.

The panel said inoculations should be open to all people whom the Food and Drug Administration’s emergency use authorizations have approved to get the shot in order “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 DSHS Associate Commissioner Imelda Garcia, who is also the chair of the expert panel.

The Lone Star State reports that it has administered more than 9.3 million doses of the vaccine, with more than 6.3 million people receiving at least one dose and almost 3.2 million people being fully vaccinated. 

Texas’s health department has instructed vaccine sites to prioritize those 80 years old or older when scheduling appointments and to move them to the front of the line, even if they show up without an appointment.  

“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,” Garcia added in her statement.

Before the announcement, the groups currently eligible for the vaccine include front-line health care workers, nursing home residents, teachers, those 50 or older and adults with certain medical conditions. Texas’s eligibility expansion comes less than two weeks after it allowed people 50 and older to get their shots. 

Texas remains in the bottom six states for the number of vaccine doses administered per 100,000 of the total population, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data.

DSHS plans to launch a website next week that will permit residents to register to get the vaccine at some public health providers. Previously, providers offered their own registration lists, prompting people to sign onto several of them. 

Texas’s update comes as New York, Tennessee, West Virginia and Arizona all announced expansions to vaccine eligibility this week by lowering the minimum age.

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