While continuing to focus on older residents, the Texas State Department of Health Services announced it is opening COVID-19 vaccinations to all adults starting Monday, March 29.
Officials cited an increase in vaccine supplies in the coming weeks as one reason for the expansion in eligibility.
As of March 23, Texans in Phase 1A (healthcare workers, certain first responders, assisted living residents and staff), Phase 1B (age 65 and older or 16 and older but with underlying health conditions), and Phase 1C (ages 50 to 64) along with school and childcare staff are eligible for the vaccine.
“We are closing in on 10 million doses administered in Texas, and we want to keep the momentum as the vaccine supply increases,” said Imelda Garcia, DSHS associate commissioner for Laboratory and Infectious Disease Services and chair of the state’s Expert Vaccine Allocation Panel. “As eligibility opens up, we are asking providers to continue to prioritize people who are the most at risk of severe disease, hospitalization and death — such as older adults.”
The DSHS is directing vaccine providers to prioritize residents age 80 and older. This includes “moving them to the front of the line” when scheduling appointments or if they show up for a vaccine with or without an appointment.
“This will ensure vaccination of anyone 80 or older with as small a burden on themselves as possible,” heath officials stated in a media release.
The DSHS will launch a website the week of March 29 to allow people to register for a vaccine through some public health providers. It will also offer a toll-free number to assist those without internet or limited access with making an appointment with a participating provider or locating a provider with vaccines available.
Residents will be able to enroll in the Texas Public Health Vaccine Scheduler to find upcoming vaccine clinics hosted by the DSHS or a participating local health department.
Texans can continue to register through other providers’ portals and can locate those providers on the DSHS vaccine availability map.