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A third COVID-19 vaccine — this one a single dose — could be available for use in Texas as early as March 1, according to the Texas Department of State Health Services. The state also announced that 1 in 3 people over the age of 65 have received at least the first of a two-dose vaccine as of Thursday, Feb. 11, and that mobile vaccination units would be targeting rural areas with limited access to the shots. That includes San Saba County, the closest to the Highland Lakes in the group. 

In a Feb. 11 media briefing, Imelda Garcia, the associate commissioner for Laboratory and Infectious Disease Services for DSHS said 3.66 million doses have been administered in Texas so far. That includes 900,000 in the last week. 

“Our focus on older adults has paid off,” she said, when reciting those numbers. 

The state is expected to have fully vaccinated, with both doses, 1 million by Friday, Feb. 12. 

Johnson & Johnson is ready to ship a third vaccine as soon as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration gives its approval. The Janssen vaccine is a single-shot version that must be refrigerated but does not need to be frozen to safely transport and store. 

The FDA is expected to make a decision at a Feb. 26 meeting on issuing emergency authorization. 

“The earliest time we are looking at is March 1 for the availability of this vaccine,” said Dr. Saroj Rai, a scientific advisor for Texas DSHS. “The company has said the supply has been loaded in respective warehouses, and, depending on the issuance of the emergency authorization, they will be ready to ship.” 

MOBILE VACCINES

San Saba County was designated as an underserved county and will soon be visited by a State Mobile Vaccination Team operated by the Texas Division of Emergency Management and the Texas Military Department, Gov. Greg Abbott recently announced. Other counties include Golia, Sterling, Jeff Davis, and Crockett. 

“We will continue to expand access to COVID-19 vaccines and ensure our communities have the resources needed to keep their residents safe,” Abbott said in a statement. 

The State Mobile Vaccine Pilot Program began in late January, first reaching into DeWitt, Marion, Real, Sherman, and Starr counties. The vaccinations are given by Texas National Guard teams. Homebound elderly will also be served by the mobile project, which is expected to expand. 

sfreeman@thepicayune.com