Local vaccine hubs continue to prioritize older, high-risk patients as appointments open to all Texas adults

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AUSTIN (KXAN) — As of Monday, all Texans ages 16 and up are eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. However, an emphasis is still being placed on those who are more vulnerable in many places.

At Kelly Reeves Athletic Complex, Family Hospital Systems opened vaccinations to essential workers and those 80 or older on Monday when the Williamson County hub had more doses available than it had appointments scheduled.

Once FHS announced those groups could receive the vaccine without an appointment, thousands showed up.

“These are grocery store employees, these are teachers, these are electricians and plumbers and people who are serving their community every day who might not have had the opportunity yet to get their first vaccine dose,” said Jen Stratton, director of communications for Family Hospital Systems.

Prioritizing those at higher risk for death or hospitalization because of the virus, especially those 80 and older, is what the Texas Department of State Health Services is encouraging other hubs to do too.

“We have directed providers to take special care to vaccinate our super seniors, those 80 and older, by moving them to the top of the waiting list and moving them to the front of the line, and this is regardless of whether or not they have an appointment,” said DSHS Associate Commissioner of Laboratory and Infectious Disease Services Imelda Garcia during a state press conference Monday.

While University of Texas Health Austin is opening up its appointments to all adults, a spokesperson says it is prioritizing anyone 80 or older, per the state’s direction, then phases 1A, 1B and 1C after that.

Austin Public Health told KXAN it is not opening appointments to all adults just yet. Only phases 1A through 1C will be able to schedule appointments Monday evening.

APH is working through a plan to still prioritize those higher-risk groups on its site before opening appointments to all adults.

Anyone 16 or older can now register for the vaccine through Family Hospital Systems in Williamson County.

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