AUSTIN (KXAN) — Beginning Monday, March 15, a wider swath of Texans will be eligible for COVID-19 vaccinations — as part of the 1C priority group.
Texas DSHS announced Wednesday people 50 to 64, who account for 20% of all fatalities, will be able to be vaccinated as the next most-vulnerable group.
“We’ve seen a remarkable decrease in the number of hospitalizations and deaths since people 65 and older started becoming fully vaccinated in January,” said Imelda Garcia, DSHS associate commissioner. “Expanding to ages 50 to 64 will continue the state’s priorities of protecting those at the greatest risk of severe outcomes and preserving the state’s health care system.”
Phase 1A and Phase 1B patients have been receiving vaccines since December. The state says it will continue making sure these patients are vaccinated fully.
Doctors across the state are reacting to the news, including Dr. Scott Milton, an infectious disease specialist with Texas Tech Physicians.
“What you hope is that opening it up to more people means more people get vaccinated, which means fewer people get sick,” Dr. Milton said that opening up the gates to more Texans overall will be good for the state, especially with capacity expanding Wednesday.
“I think that also the fact that we’re opening up all the restaurants and bars 100%, to me, that’s, that’s another really good reason to open it up to more people,” Dr. Milton added.
He said he understands there might be some frustration from those in 1B who still have not received the vaccine, but for those in some areas of the state in Amarillo, vaccine rollout has been smooth, and they need to expand eligibility to get more shots in arms.
“There’s not been a surplus of vaccine yet. And there’s still not. And I think that’s kind of what people are grappling with, what the experts are grappling with. And I think that’s a hard decision to make is how you make sure you get it, the vaccine to the people who need it most first,” Dr. Milton said.
When the Texas Vaccine Allocation Panel made the 1C decision last week, many other types of essential workers in Texas had hoped they would be included in the group. But Wednesday’s age-specific expansion will keep them waiting for now.
Texas DSHS reports over 7 million doses of vaccine have been administered in Texas so far. At least 4.7 million people have received at least one dose, while 2.5 million are fully vaccinated.