Texas to open COVID-19 vaccine to all adults starting next week

Coronavirus Vaccine

A health professional holds a syringe at the Woluwe-Saint-Pierre vaccination center, which is primarily administering the Oxford-AstraZeneca jab, on March 18, 2021 in Brussels, Belgium. Belgium is one of the rare European countries that continues inoculations against Covid-19 with the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, after more than 15 nations suspended it. (Photo by Jean-Christophe Guillaume/Getty Images)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Starting on March 29, every adult in Texas will be eligible to get the COVID-19 vaccine, while seniors 80 and older will be able to get it with or without an appointment.

The Texas Department of State Health Services announced Tuesday that it’s able to expand eligibility because of an increase in the vaccine supply. The DSHS added that the state has made “great progress in vaccinating priority groups,” and it wants to continue to do so.

“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,” said Imelda Garcia, Texas DSHS associate commissioner for laboratory and infectious disease services and the chair of the Expert Vaccine Allocation Panel.

People who are 80 and older will get moved to the front of the line for the vaccine. All they have to do is show up at any vaccine provider and they can immediately get vaccinated.

Gov. Abbott tweets news of the announcement on March 23.

The Texas DSHS will also launch a website next week to register for the vaccine to get a shot through a public health provider. Officials did not say which day next week, but it’s expected that the registration process will likely open on or before March 29, when all adults become eligible.

“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,” the DSHS said in its release.

The DSHS added that Texans can continue to look for other providers through the DSHS Vaccine Information page.

The DSHS said online registration will be the best option for most people, but it will offer a toll-free number to help people who might not have internet access make an appointment or find a provider.

Texas has administered 9.3 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine statewide, DSHS said. That includes more than 6 million first doses of the vaccine. Of those, more than 3 million are fully vaccinated.

Most vaccines are authorized for people 18 years old and older, but the Food and Drug Administration has authorized the Pfizer vaccine for people 16 and older.

President Joe Biden announced on March 11 that he was directing the states to make the COVID-19 vaccine available to all adults by May 1. The move by Texas beats that federal target by more than a month.

“By July the Fourth, there’s a good chance your families and friends will be able to get together in your backyard or your neighborhood and have a cookout or a barbecue and celebrate Independence Day,” Biden said.

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