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Austin's Top Doctor Defends Decision To Offer State Legislators COVID-19 Vaccines

Dr. Mark Escott, interim medical director of Austin Public Health, speaking during a news conference on March 6, 2020.
Julia Reihs
Dr. Mark Escott, interim medical director of Austin Public Health, speaks during a news conference at the beginning of the pandemic last year.

The city’s interim health authority says he stands by his decision to offer COVID-19 vaccines to state legislators as many others across the state continue searching for doses.

“Number 1: We have a unique event which is happening in our jurisdiction, in the City of Austin, in Travis County,” Dr. Mark Escott said "That is the legislative session, which brings individuals from around the state of Texas to one place. [We’re] talking about thousands of people who are going to be in contact for six months. That represents a risk for a superspreading event.”

Escott said the other concern is continuity of government and recognizing that essential government services must continue during the pandemic.

“My hope is that the state will provide a specific allocation for that purpose. But as far as the city and county is concerned, we are going to focus some of our resources, a small amount of resources, on that continuity-of-government plan,” he said.

That includes inoculating elected city and county officials, county and state judges and key staff who qualify as part of the 1B population of adults older than 65 and those with underlying conditions.

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Jerry Quijano is the local All Things Considered anchor for KUT. Got a tip? Email him at Follow him on Twitter @jerryquijano.
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