March 24, 2021 546 PM
TEXAS — Starting next Monday, March 29, all adults will be eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine in Texas. The Texas Department of State Health Services says it’s made “great strides” in vaccinating people and that its Expert Vaccine Allocation Panel is therefore now recommending opening vaccinations to everybody. The agency also says it expects vaccine supplies to increase next week.
As that supply increases, the state says it will soon have the resources to vaccinate anyone who’s old enough to receive one. That age limit varies slightly by shot. Most vaccines have an age limit of 18, while the Pfizer vaccine is open to everyone 16 or older.
More than 9.3 million Texans, or around one-third of the state, have already been vaccinated, including around three million who have been fully vaccinated. “We want to keep up the momentum as the vaccine supply increases,” Imelda Garcia, DSHS associate commissioner for laboratory and infectious disease services and the chair of the Expert Vaccine Allocation Panel, said in a statement.
Regardless, older people and people with increased risk factors will still be prioritized. DSHS has directed vaccine providers to prioritize people 80 years old or older when scheduling appointments. The agency is asking providers to immediately move those patients to the front of the line, whether or not they have an appointment. That will help ease the burden on older and higher-risk patients, the agency says. Those over the age of 80 have been disproportionately affected by severe cases of COVID-19 and have recorded the highest death rates from the disease.
Also next week, DSHS will launch a website and toll-free number to allow people to register for a shot through some public health providers. The public will be able to enroll in the Texas Public Health Vaccine Scheduler to identify upcoming vaccine clinics hosted by DSHS or a participating local health department and be notified when new clinics and appointments become available. In the meantime, more information is available at dshs.texas.gov/covidvaccine.