AUSTIN (KXAN) — On the same day Austin-Travis County passed a grim milestone of more than 1,000 COVID-19 deaths, it also inched closer to the mark health leaders say will get us to herd immunity.
According to the Texas Health and Human Services vaccine dashboard, just under 70% of the eligible population in Austin-Travis County is now fully vaccinated. Just under 80% have gotten at least their first dose of a vaccine.
To hit herd immunity, 70% of the entire population would need to be vaccinated. We’re at 57.95% in Travis County including the children under 12 who are still are not eligible to get a vaccine.
Dr. Desmar Walkes, the local health authority, said while vaccine efforts are very promising, and studies have shown reaching that 70% mark does largely help curb spread, surrounding communities play a role in how stressed our hospital systems are in Austin-Travis County.
“It’s still important for us to look around us, to our neighboring counties, to get them vaccinated as well,” she said. “They do use our hospital system for care, if they’re not vaccinated that impacts our hospital system as well.”
According to the Austin-Travis County COVID-19 dashboard, there are 549 people in Austin-area hospitals with COVID-19 as of Thursday evening. There are 202 people on ventilators because of the virus, with 139 patients on ventilators.
Health leaders continue to say the large majority of people suffering from serious illness or death related to COVID-19 are unvaccinated.
Friday’s briefing also comes on the heels of major developments from President Joe Biden Thursday night where he announced that companies with more than 100 employees will be required to implement a vaccine mandate or regular testing. He also doubled the fines for people not wearing a mask while traveling by air, among other measures.
“We’ve been patient. But our patience is wearing thin, and your refusal has cost all of us,” Biden said as he criticized the roughly 80 million Americans who are not yet vaccinated.
Austin Public Health said they are in support of Biden’s announcement but have not had time to implement the changes or figure out how it will impact us here locally. They also reminded businesses that APH will bring vaccine clinics directly to them.
To find a vaccine operation near you, or schedule an appointment, check out Austin Public Health’s website.