Support Community Press

You can show your support of a vibrant and healthy free press by becoming a voluntary subscriber.

Subscribe Now

After hitting two milestones over the past seven days in the number of vaccines administered, the state of Texas will reach another the week of March 8 in sheer number of allocated first doses.

Imelda Garcia, chair of the Texas Department of State Health Services‘ expert vaccine allocation panel, said the department expects to receive one million first doses next week. The last allocation from the federal government was just over 676,000.

Garcia said those doses will go to about 1,600 providers across the state.

“That’s hundreds more than we’ve been able to provide in a single week before,” said Garcia, who’s also the department’s associate commissioner for the Division of Laboratory and Infectious Disease Services.

Along with the two-dose vaccines from Moderna and Pfizer, Garcia pointed out that “we now have another tool in our tool box” with the Janssen Pharmaceuticals one-dose vaccine, to which the U.S. Food and Drug Administration gave emergency use authorization Feb. 27. 

The first shipment of that vaccine arrived in Texas this week, she added, with 24,000 doses going to three federal sites in Dallas, Houston, and Arlington. She expected a similar shipment for those locations next week.

“It’s a little uncertain what that (shipment) will look like the week after next,” Garcia added, but reaffirmed that the new vaccine is a big boost in supplies.

Over the past seven days, Texas providers vaccinated 5 million residents and then quickly shattered that milestone with 6 million residents vaccinated.

As of Thursday, March 4, Garcia said about 6.1 million Texans have received a vaccine and 2.1 million of those are fully vaccinated. She added that the state is fast approaching 50 percent of residents ages 65 and older having received at least one dose. 

She also highlighted the recent federal directive for states to include school employees and childcare workers among those eligible for the vaccine. 

“But this doesn’t mean they are jumping others in line,” she said. 

The state is asking vaccine providers to continue vaccinating those in phases 1A and 1B, which includes healthcare personnel, first responders, longterm care facility staff and residents, those ages 65 and older, and those ages 16 and older who have serious medical conditions.

The Department of State Health Services usually releases the vaccine allocation list each Friday for the following week. 

daniel@thepicayune.com