AUSTIN (KXAN) — A line of Austin Independent School District community members and their families could be seen snaking outside a free COVID-19 vaccine/booster pop-up clinic on Saturday.
The event, held at the Austin ISD Performing Arts Center, offered first and second doses of the Pfizer vaccine to guests ages five and older. Booster shots were available for guests ages 12 and older.
As of 11:30 a.m., 190 people 12 and older had received shots. Meanwhile, 100 pediatric guests received theirs. The event was hosted by Dell Children’s Medical Center and Ascension Seton.
“The lines are pretty long today which I think is great that so many people came out,” said an Austin ISD Parent. “We started looking for appointments but it’s hard to find appointments on the weekends.”
Austin ISD Student Lucia Nieneyer scored her booster shot at Austin ISD’s clinic on Saturday.
“She’s playing basketball, so there’s a lot of indoor activity, plus being in school,” said Lucia’s mom. “I also teach so being around students makes it important.”
The Austin-Travis County area is currently under Stage 5 guidelines for COVID-19 risk (the highest risk level) after a surge in infections and hospitalizations. Under these recommendations, even low-risk vaccinated people should be wearing masks during all out-of-the-home gatherings.
High-risk people who are vaccinated are discouraged from gathering with people outside of their household. Partially (not finished with both original shots and the booster) or unvaccinated people should not travel or gather with people outside their households completely.
The push for booster shots comes as omicron cases begin to circulate in district schools again.
“We are in contact with schools and are in a position to advise and quarantine schools as needed,” said Dr. Desmar Walkes, Austin Public Health Authority.
In Williamson County, booster shots are ramping up too. The Williamson County and Cities Health District began administering booster shots the first day the CDC gave the approval.
“Some days the walk-in site may see 50 people for a COVID vaccine, the majority of which are boosters,” said Dr. Amanda Norwood, Medical Director. “We’re at a higher number than we’ve been at any point during the pandemic.”
In Round Rock, the district has seen over 1,500 cases between the winter break and the first week of school. Leander ISD also had a big week with nearly 300 cases reported. Austin ISD plans to update its district dashboard on Tuesday.
As of Friday, there were 6,673 active COVID-19 cases in Austin-Travis County. Four-hundred and thirty-five people were reported as being hospitalized, including 93 patients in the ICU and 48 people on ventilators. While infection rates and hospitalizations in the area had previously plummeted, spread of the omicron variant has caused a sharp spike in both numbers.
Earlier this week, Austin Public Health said 1 in 3 who are getting tested in Austin-Travis County are testing positive for COVID-19.
To find a COVID-19 vaccine, check out the Austin vaccine page.