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Austin Public Health To Incorporate More Community-Based Vaccine Distribution Events

A patient receives a COVID-19 vaccine on March 27.
Gabriel C. Pérez
A patient receives a COVID-19 vaccine on March 27.

Almost 900 people received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine at a walk-up clinic held by Austin Public Health on Thursday. APH officials said it’s part of their plan to shift to a hybrid model for vaccine distribution.

Starting in May, the department will maintain a few of its large distribution sites but will incorporate more community-based vaccination events.

“We are really looking forward to the efforts of providing vaccines that are near individuals in the neighborhoods that need them the most,” APH Director Stephanie Hayden-Howard said. The department will target specific areas and ZIP codes in multiple settings, like apartment complexes, community centers and through faith-based organizations, she said.

Cassandra DeLeon, APH’s chief administrative officer for the disease prevention and health promotion division, said there has been a slowdown in people signing up for appointments through APH. To help vaccinate more people, the department is extending hours for appointments but trying other options that provide more flexibility.

“The mass vaccine strategy, while it’s really important to reach a lot of people, it doesn’t always meet everyone’s needs,” DeLeon said. “We’ve seen some of the pop-up clinics that we’ve done in partnership with the faith-based community and some of our other partners really be very successful in engaging individuals that would not have gone to one of our mass vaccine clinics.”

Janet Pichette, the chief epidemiologist for APH, said people at Thursday’s event said the walk-up clinic was more convenient with their work schedules and child care situations. She said it probably also helped people without access to the internet.

DeLeon said the area is not close to the 67% vaccination target, with some ZIP codes under the 40% mark.

“We really know that we’ve got to continue to focus vaccine efforts to make sure that everyone has access,” she said.

Watch the video of APH's Friday news conference below:

Sangita Menon is a general assignment reporter for KUT. Got a tip? Email her at Follow her on Twitter @sangitamenon.
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