AUSTIN (KXAN) — Officials from the Texas Department of State Health Services shared Thursday that one in three people 65 years of age and older in the state have now gotten at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.
Imelda Garcia, the associate commissioner for laboratory and infection disease services, said that amounts to more than 1.2 million people in that group believed to be more vulnerable to serious complications from the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.
During a virtual news conference Thursday afternoon, Garcia said providers have now administered more than 3.66 million doses of vaccine across Texas, which is an increase of more than 900,000 from a week ago.
She shared 2.7 million people have received at least one dose, while 960,000 are now fully vaccinated with both doses. She said Texas DSHS anticipates reporting more than 1 million to be fully vaccinated by Friday.
Garcia said Texas is expecting to receive another 400,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccines to distribute to more than 300 providers next week. However, she warned that wintry weather as well as Presidents’ Day may delay the arrival of shipments to those providers.
She expressed optimism that more vaccine is coming to Texas with news Wednesday that the federal government will open three mass vaccination centers in Houston, Arlington and Dallas. Through a partnership with FEMA, the state will build Community Vaccination Centers at Dallas’ Fair Park near the Cotton Bowl, AT&T Stadium in Arlington and NRG Stadium in Houston. These three centers together will be able to administer 10,000 shots per day, the White House said.
Additionally, the Texas Division of Emergency Management along with the Texas Military Department will deploy State Mobile Vaccination Teams to five underserved counties in Texas this week, according to an announcement from Gov. Greg Abbott’s office.
Those counties include: San Saba, Goliad, Sterling, Jeff Davis and Crockett Counties.
The teams were previously deployed to Motley, Glasscock, Kenedy, Terrell, McMullen, DeWitt, Marion, Real, Sherman and Starr Counties for a pilot program.
“Our state mobile vaccine teams are working tirelessly to vaccinate more Texans in rural communities,” said Abbott in a press release. “We will continue to expand access to COVID-19 vaccines and ensure our communities have the resources needed to keep their residents safe.”
Johnson & Johnson vaccine
Dr. Saroj Rai, a scientific advisor for Texas DSHS, discussed when a third vaccine candidate being developed by Johnson & Johnson could be available in the state. During the Thursday news conference, she said that single-dose shot could be available by March 1.
The Food & Drug Administration’s advisory committee will meet Feb. 26 to consider an emergency use application for the vaccine candidate. A clinical trial for it is currently underway in Austin.
“We anticipate the FDA will do an issuance of the emergency use authorization,” Dr. Rai said.
Dr. Rai said early data showed the vaccine is 72% effective in the U.S. and 66% effective overall at preventing moderate to severe COVID-19, 28 days after vaccination. The early data has also shown it’s 85% effective overall in preventing severe disease and demonstrated complete protection against COVID-19-related hospitalization and death as of day 28.