AUSTIN (KXAN) — Health experts marked a milestone Wednesday by announcing that 70% of eligible residents in Austin-Travis County have now gotten at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.
Despite celebrating this achievement, Austin Public Health urged those who remain unvaccinated to get the shot as the best way to protect themselves from the more easily spread Delta variant of the coronavirus. The Centers for Disease and Prevention stated it’s now become the dominant strain in the U.S.
“Today, July 7, Austin Public Health reported 159 new cases along with an increasing positivity rate of 4.3%,” Dr. Desmar Walkes, the Austin-Travis County health authority, said. “We are beginning to see an increase in COVID-19 cases in Travis County, similar to what has been seen in other parts of the country.”
The Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) reported 120 cases to date of the Delta variant in the state. None have been officially confirmed in Travis County, but Williamson County recently identified several cases caused by the variant in its area.
Dr. Walkes said the presence of this strain and others has made it more difficult to identify when the area will reach herd immunity from COVID-19.
“We continue to monitor our case numbers and hospital admissions as we know that there will be an impact on these due to the presence of the Delta variant. We will make adjustments in our recommendations accordingly,” she said. “At the same time, the situation calls for everyone taking responsibility for themselves and determining their own level of risk.”
APH shared the state is reporting 60.8% of eligible Travis County residents have been fully vaccinated, while 70% have gotten at least one dose. Travis County is the only county in the KXAN viewing area to reach the 70% milestone.
“Our advice remains the same: Get vaccinated. It’s the best way to protect yourself, your loved ones, and your neighborhood as a whole,” Adrienne Sturrup, the interim APH director, said in a news release. “We are working closely with community partners to meet and vaccinate people on their terms, in the places where they gather, shop and worship to make sure everyone has the opportunity to be safe and protected.”
APH is still providing businesses, community organizations and other groups the opportunity to create a pop-up vaccination clinic at the location of their own choosing. It’s part of an ongoing effort to provide a more-targeted approach to get people vaccinated.
The agency is also reminding people they can text their zip code to 438829 (822862 for Spanish) to learn the vaccination sites closest to their neighborhoods.