Texas aims to vaccinate homebound seniors, new program kicks off Monday

Texas Coronavirus Vaccine

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Gov. Greg Abbott wants to get the COVID-19 vaccine into the arms of homebound seniors across the Lone Star State.

“A key part of our mission in the fight against COVID-19 is to vaccinate seniors and those who are most at risk,” he said.

Abbott said the state plans to do this through a new initiative — Save Our Seniors. The program kicks off Monday with the deployment of 1,100 Texas National Guardsmen who will work to help identify and register homebound seniors for the program and make house calls to administer the vaccines.

“The biggest challenge in trying to vaccinate seniors is having access to information where the seniors are,” Abbott added.

In order to find those most in need and at high-risk, the state plans to team up with organizations like Meals On Wheels and connect with local senior living facilities.

Former Austin municipal court judge and Meals on Wheels Central Texas client Harriet Murphy is hoping she makes the list.

“That’s been my biggest worry — is how am I going to get my shot?” she pondered.

Murphy, who is in her 90s, said she has anxiously been waiting to get her vaccine.

“All my friends have gotten theirs and they’re not as old as I am,” she said softly chuckling.

Meals on Wheels Central Texas leaders said they’re continue to advocate for their seniors like Murphy and have sent a list of seniors in need of a vaccine shot to Austin Public Health.

When it comes to the Save Our Seniors program, Abbott said they’ll allocate about 8,000 vaccines for the first week.

To date, about 6% of the state’s population has been vaccinated. This week, Abbott said Texas will receive its largest vaccine distribution from the federal government of more than a million vaccines with more to come in the following weeks.

Over the weekend, the Johnson and Johnson vaccine was given the green light. A U.S. Food and Drug Administration panel approved the Emergency Use Authorization for the vaccine. Overnight, the federal government started to ship out nearly 4 million doses of the vaccine.

Last week the Department of State Health Services said Texas could be getting around 200,000 doses immediately. The company is set to deliver about 16 million more doses by the end of March and 100 million total by the end of June.

Gov. Abbott said this third vaccine option may be the best option for homebound seniors as it is a one-shot vaccine as opposed to the two doses those who get the Moderna or Pfizer shot have to get.

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