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Austinites urged to get vaccinated and follow preventative measures over the Thanksgiving holiday

Michael Minasi
Pharmacist Sophie Lee administers a COVID-19 vaccine to Owen as he pets Sky, a therapy dog, at a vaccine clinic Nov. 13.

Austin health officials are asking people to wear masks and social distance in public places to prevent the spread of the coronavirus around the Thanksgiving holiday.

“As we head into this holiday weekend, we ask that we take the measures that we know work to help decrease the spread of COVID-19 in our community, but in particular our family gatherings,” Desmar Walkes, Austin Public Health's medical director, said at a news conference Tuesday.

People should also get tested if they feel any kind of symptom, she said.

Last week, there was a 33% increase of the Austin area's community transmission rate — that’s the seven-day average of new coronavirus infections. Combined with a bump in new cases, the figures indicate another possible surge of the virus.

That uptick has Austin Public Health officials stressing the importance of risk mitigation when traveling and interacting over the next few days.

Last year, hospitalizations in the Austin area ballooned in the weeks following Thanksgiving. This year, however, COVID-19 vaccines are widely available across Central Texas.

APH officials are urging people to get vaccinated against COVID-19 and the flu now to be prepared for the remainder of the holiday season.

More than 77% of Travis County residents 5 and older have received at least one dose of the vaccine, and nearly 87% of people 65 and older in the county are fully vaccinated.

Booster shots are also now available to anyone 18 and older after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention expanded eligibility for the shots last week.

APH is offering boosters at all of its vaccine clinics. You can walk up to one of the clinics or schedule an appointment online or over the phone by calling 512-974-2000. Many other places, like pharmacies, are also offering booster shots.

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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