AUSTIN (KXAN) — The Texas Department of State Health Services expanded the vaccine allocation to a new group of people Monday.
Phase 1C gives people who are at least 50 years old the green light to get vaccinated. DSHS officials said they decided to open the vaccine allocation to this group because it makes up 20% of all COVID-19 deaths.
However, some Central Texas vaccine hubs and providers have yet to vaccinate all of those who fall under Phase 1A and 1B, and many of those report having a waitlist for those categories.
Hubs and providers such as Austin Public Health and Williamson County have announced they will prioritize people who are currently waiting before moving forward to the next phase.
Here is a look at which groups are currently eligible:
- Paid and unpaid workers in hospital settings
- Staff and residents at long-term care facilities
- EMS providers
- Home health care workers, including hospice
- Public health staff who help administer COVID-19 testing and vaccinations
- Funeral home and mortuary workers
- School nurses
On Dec. 14, Texas received its first shipment of vaccine doses, and at that time, DSHS opened the vaccine distribution to those who fell under Phase 1A. The first phase was divided into two tiers with the first tier focusing on frontline workers specifically those working in a hospital setting with COVID-19 patients, long-term care staff working with vulnerable populations.
The second tier of Phase 1A included outpatient care staff who work with COVID-19 patients, clinical staff working in diagnostic, labs, and rehabilitation facilities as well as non-911 transport for routine care works and health care workers in corrections and detention facilities.
- People 65 years of age and older
- People 16 years of age and older with at least one chronic medical condition that puts them at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19, such as but not limited to:
- Chronic kidney disease
- COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease)
- Heart conditions, such as heart failure coronary artery disease or cardiomyopathies
- Solid organ transplantation
- Obesity and severe obesity (body mass index of 30 kg/m2 or higher)
- Sickle cell disease
- Type 2 diabetes mellitus
Just a month after that, DSHS expanded its vaccine allocation to Phase 1B. The phase included anyone who is 65 years of age or older as well as people who are 16 years or older living with a chronic medical condition that would put them at higher risk for severe complications and hospitalization.
School and Licensed Care Personnel
- Those who work in pre-primary, primary, and secondary schools
- Head Start and Early Head Start programs (including teachers, staff, and bus drivers)
- Those who work as or for licensed child care providers, including center-based and family care providers
On March 2, the White House issued a federal directive asking states to make school teachers, school staff and child care providers immediately eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine. Texas complied with that directive a day later on March 3.
“In light of this federal directive, all vaccine providers in Texas should immediately include these personnel in vaccination administration and outreach to ensure they are able to be immunized,” DSHS Commissioner Dr. John Hellerstedt told providers.
“This action does not change the other groups prioritized for vaccination in Texas, and I encourage you to continue your efforts to vaccinate older adults since the burden of COVID-19 falls so severely on people ages 65 and older.”
- People 50 to 64 years of age
DSHS opened up vaccines to Phase 1C on Monday, saying, “expanding vaccination to those who are at least 50 years old will protect the next most vulnerable group and advance the state’s dual priorities of reducing the burden of disease on people at the greatest risk of hospitalization and death and protecting the health care system.”
Austin Public Health officials hope to have vaccines available for those who fall under Phase 1C at some point in the next week. Everyone who falls under Phase 1C is encouraged to register and sign up for the COVID-19 vaccine.