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COVID-19 vaccinations in Texas

Ascension Seton Medical Center staff are among the Phase 1A frontline healthcare providers who have been receiving the COVID-19 vaccine. Currently, individuals in the state of Texas' Phase 1A and Phase 1B categories are eligible to receive the vaccine. Photo courtesy of Ascension Seton

As COVID-19 vaccinations continue in Texas, Highland Lakes residents have questions regarding the vaccines and how to get their shot. Below are some commonly asked questions and answers.

WHO IS CURRENTLY BEING VACCINATED OR ELIGIBLE TO BE VACCINATED?

Currently, under the state of Texas’ COVID-19 vaccination distribution plan, people who are in Phase 1A and Phase 1B are eligible for vaccinations at this time. Phase 1A includes, but is not limited to:

  • frontline healthcare workers 
  • many first responders
  • home healthcare workers coming into direct contact with vulnerable and high-risk patients
  • long-term care facility staff working directly with vulnerable residents
  • long-term care facility residents and outpatient care setting staff who interact with symptomatic patients
  • community pharmacy staff who may provide direct care to clients
  • last responders such as those providing death and mortuary services
  • school nurses

Phase 1B includes:

  • people 65 years of age or older
  • people 16 years of age and older who have at least one chronic medical condition that puts them at increased risk for severe illness from the coronavirus that causes COVID-19

HOW DO I KNOW IF I’M ELIGIBLE?

A person’s eligibility for the vaccine is based on the categories listed above at this time. If you have questions about your eligibility, contact the Texas Department of State Health Services or your primary care physician or healthcare provider. 

IF I’M ELIGIBLE, HOW DO I GET A VACCINE OR SIGN UP TO BE VACCINATED?

If you are within Phase 1A, check with your employer or your long-term care facility staff. If you are in Phase 1B, check with vaccine providers. The state has allocated doses to many pharmacies, medical centers, hospitals, and similar facilities across Texas on an extremely limited basis. 

As these facilities receive doses, they are distributing them as quickly as possible. 

People in both Phase 1A and Phase 1B can check the state’s Vaccine Availability Map to find locations that have received vaccine doses. 

The map will provide the number of doses available at that site with website and contact information. 

However, if a facility near you has doses according to the state’s map, don’t go there expecting to receive a vaccine. Most, if not all, are not taking walk-ins and require an appointment. 

State officials recommend you check the facility’s website for signup instructions or email the location. 

In the Highland Lakes, vaccine-eligible residents can register with Baylor Scott & White Health and H-E-B

H-E-B has limited vaccines and will open an online scheduler for eligible people to make appointments when they receive another round of vaccine from the state.

Atkins Pharmacy in Marble Falls is accepting people to its waiting list if they email mail@atkinspharmacy.com.

Starting the week of Jan. 11, the state is also using a hub system to focus  vaccine distribution at locations hit hard by COVID-19. The goal of using hubs it to make it simpler to sign up for an appointment. 

Those in Phase 1 and eligible to be vaccinated can check the COVID-19 Vaccination Hub Providers webpage for more information. 

The nearest hub to the Highland Lakes is Austin Public Health.

HOW MANY DOSES HAS THE COUNTY RECEIVED SO FAR? 

According to the DSHS allocation figures, Burnet County facilities have received a total of 1,700 doses, while Llano County has one facility that has received 100 doses.

The vaccines do not go to the county or municipal governments but to pharmacies, medical centers, and clinics within the county. 

WHEN IS THE NEXT BATCH EXPECTED? HOW MANY IN THAT? 

The state distributes COVID-19 vaccines each week to locations across Texas. The DSHS releases a weekly allocation list on its COVID-19 Vaccine Information webpage. 

HOW MANY PEOPLE HAVE BEEN VACCINATED SO FAR? 

According to the DSHS, as of Tuesday, Jan. 12, in Burnet County, 784 residents had received their first dose of the vaccine and 23 had received both doses. This is out of an estimated population of 39,423 residents 16 and older.

In Burnet County, an estimated 2,986 are classified in the Phase 1A category and 28,541 in Phase 1B. The state doesn’t delineate if any individuals qualify in more than one sub-population in each category.

In Llano County, the DSHS reported as of Tuesday, Jan. 12, that 293 people had received the first dose of the vaccine and seven had received two doses. This is out of an estimated population of 18,642 residents 16 and older.

According to DSHS estimates, Llano County has 698 people classified in the Phase 1A category and 15,832 in the Phase 1B category. 

WHAT TIMELINE HAS BEEN ESTABLISHED FOR CONTINUED ROLLOUT OVER THE NEXT FEW MONTHS? 

The state is following its COVID-19 Vaccination Plan. State health officials have said they are currently focused on vaccinating people within the Phase 1A and Phase 1B categories. 

Officials estimate it will likely be the spring before more phases are opened, including the general population, but that could change depending on the number of vaccines to which the U.S. Food and Drug Administration grants emergency use authorization as well as vaccine production. 

Currently, only vaccines by Pfizer and Moderna have received emergency use authorization. 

EXPLAIN THE PHASES AND WHERE THE COUNTY IS NOW IN THAT PROCESS? 

Currently, both Burnet and Llano counties are in Phase 1A and Phase 1B when it comes to vaccination distribution. These phases are determined at the state level. Gov. Greg Abbott established the COVID-19 Expert Vaccine Allocation Panel, which develops the allocation strategies and makes recommendations to the Texas Commissioner of Health Dr. John Hellerstedt for final approval. 

WILL I NEED TO PAY FOR A VACCINATION? DO I NEED INSURANCE?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, any vaccine doses purchased with U.S. taxpayer dollars will be provided to citizens at no cost. However, vaccination providers can charge an administration fee for giving the shot to someone. Providers can get this fee reimbursed through a patient’s public or private insurance or, for uninsured patients, by the Health Resources and Services Administration’s Provider Relief Fund. Currently, the vaccine doses shipped by the federal government to the state of Texas for distribution have been purchased with taxpayer money. 

editor@thepicayune.com

2 thoughts on “COVID-19 vaccination questions answered

  1. I received this from a friend in La Porte, Texas, two days ago.. “Hats off to San Jacinto Methodist Hospital in Baytown. I arrived at Methodist Hospital 11:15 to get my vaccine and I left at 11:45. They are well organized.” I am in phase 1B, but I can’t find a place that will even put me on their list. This lack of organization in Burnet is ridiculous.

  2. Chuck Deiterich I agree wholeheartly. I have friends in Canton, Longview , Tyler and other more rural areas that are getting the vaccine and Burnet County is ridiculous. You can’t even get on a list at HEB or Baylor Scott and White. Atkins Pharmacy seems to be the only source that is being proactive.

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