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COVID-19

Austin Leaders Say Vaccinating Key Groups Will Remain The Focus As Texas Opens Eligibility To All Adults

People wait in line to get vaccinated against COVID-19 at the Delco Activity Center.
Julia Reihs
/
KUT
People wait in line to get vaccinated against COVID-19 at the Delco Activity Center in January.

The State of Texas will be opening up vaccine eligibility to all adults beginning Monday, but Austin Mayor Steve Adler says he would have preferred if the state had focused on frontline workers first.

“I wish our next move had been to focus on essential workers and people that are really at the crossroads of passing this infection onto others,” he said at a joint session of the Travis County Commissioners and Austin City Council on Tuesday.

The city’s interim medical director, Dr. Mark Escott, said Austin Public Health had been hopeful the state's 1C group would include essential workers, as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, so APH "could target where transmission is happening."

"At this stage while positivity is low, under 5%, we really need to focus some attention on those younger people who are having more person-to-person interactions to interrupt that transmission cycle," he said.

Escott said there still won't be as many vaccine doses as there are people signing up for them.

“We are still going to have to prioritize, we’re gonna have to focus efforts in particular areas and on particular groups to ensure that we are achieving the best public health outcome that we can,” he said.

Council Member Greg Casar expressed concern about how a rush of newly eligible people might affect the chances of getting vaccines to those living in the ZIP codes with the lowest rates of vaccination.

"I will be really interested in ... how we make sure the system works if we have a big flood of people coming to they system — which is good," he said, "but how we handle it."

Austin Public Health again received 12,000 vaccine doses this week. Director Stephanie Hayden-Howard said APH is "anticipating that there will be more vaccine available in April" and said it can provide 37,000 shots per week through various clinics.

Data from the Texas Department of State Health Services shows that almost 77,000 Travis County residents aged 65 and older have received at least one dose of the vaccine. APH says as of this week, it has administered more than 148,000 first doses.

Got a tip? Email Jerry Quijano at jerry@kut.org. Follow him on Twitter @jerryquijano.

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