Austin Public Health leaders offer insight on COVID-19 vaccine distribution schedule

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced Dec. 2 that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has allotted 1.4 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccines to the state of Texas. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced Dec. 2 that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has allotted 1.4 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccines to the state of Texas. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced Dec. 2 that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has allotted 1.4 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccines to the state of Texas. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)

Austin Public Health officials shared the basics of a local COVID-19 vaccine distribution plan during a Dec. 3 town hall session with Dell Medical School and the Travis County Medical Society. Dr. Mark Escott, the Austin-Travis County interim health authority, and APH Director Stephanie Hayden outlined the projected phases of local distribution for an upcoming vaccine shipment.

About the vaccine

Gov. Greg Abbott announced earlier this week that Texas will receive its first shipment of vaccine doses allotted by the Food and Drug Administration this month. Texas will receive approximately 1.4 million doses, 13,650 of which will go to Austin-area hospitals. According to Escott, those doses will be from vaccine developer Pfizer, although future allotments may include vaccines developed by Moderna and other companies.

Escott said the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines work similarly as messenger RNA-driven vaccines and that he personally would take either once they have U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval.

“There may be some distinctions between the two, but they both work in basically the same way,” he said.


The initial doses will provide the first of two doses for 1.4 million Texans. A second dose is necessary for those who take this particular vaccine within a few weeks—ideally, 28 days later. A subsequent shipment expected later in December or January will provide that second round of doses for the first group of patients.

Who will go first

Based on guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Hayden said the following groups should be among the first to receive a vaccine during Phase 1 of administration: critical infrastructure workers, people with high risk for severe COVID-19 illness, people with high risk of acquiring or transmitting the virus, and people with limited access to vaccines. Among them, the top priority will be health care workers and volunteers likely to be exposed to the virus. Austin's first 13,650 doses will go to healthcare workers in Hays, Williamson and Travis Counties. These individuals may have access to vaccines as soon as the week of Dec. 14—Escott said Dec. 17 or 18 is his best estimate.

They will be followed by essential workers not able to work from home or social distance in the workplace and people at high risk of serious illness, including those over age 65, Hayden said.

According to Hayden, those groups represent just under 1.68 million people in the 30-county region Travis County belongs to within the Texas Department of State Health Services.

Abbott expects the state to receive a larger allotment of vaccines by Jan. 21. Escott said between Jan. 21-June 21 most people around the country are expected to have access to the vaccine, including healthy, lower-risk populations and those who live in “hard-to-reach,” rural areas.

Vaccine providers

Escott and Hayden encouraged health care providers to enroll as potential administrators for a COVID-19 vaccine through the state health department’s website. According to Escott, anyone who can currently administer other vaccines will be qualified to administer this one, including at pharmacies, doctor's offices and public health clinics. The federal government has already partnered with several chain pharmacy locations to offer vaccine administration, including H-E-B, Rite Aid, Walgreens, CVS, Costco and others. In Travis County alone, more than 150 providers have registered to administer the vaccine, according to APH.

The vaccine itself will be free, Hayden said. However, providers can charge an administrative cost, which should be covered by most health insurance.

Editor's note: New details were added at 6:58 p.m. on Dec. 4 to reflect Austin Public Health's announcement that the Austin area is set to receive 13,650 doses of the Pfizer vaccine by mid-December. Details about the number of registered vaccine providers was also updated.
By Olivia Aldridge

Reporter, Central Austin

Olivia joined Community Impact Newspaper as a reporter in March 2019. She covers public health, business, development and Travis County government. A graduate of Presbyterian College in South Carolina, Olivia worked as a reporter and producer for South Carolina Public Radio before moving to Texas. Her work has appeared on NPR and in the New York Times.



MOST RECENT

The Austin Trail of Lights will open nighly from Nov. 28 through Dec. 31. (Courtesy Trail of Lights Foundation)
PHOTOS: Austin Trail of Lights returns to Zilker Park this week

The traditional holiday light show is open from Nov. 28 through New Year's Eve.

Commissioners on Nov. 22 voted to approve a density change to preliminary plans for The Preserve, a neighborhood that city documents said could include 565 single-family homes at the northeast corner of Teel and Panther Creek Parkways. (Courtesy city of Frisco)
CI TEXAS ROUNDUP: Neighborhood near PGA Frisco could see larger lots; ERCOT says Texas power grid ready for expected winter demand and more top news

Take a look at the top five trending stories across Community Impact Newspaper’s coverage areas in Texas as of Nov. 24.

Local and state officials have made statements welcoming Samsung to Taylor following the announcement that the city will be home to its new $17 billion semiconductor fabrication plant. (Courtesy KXAN)
State, local officials react to Texas governor, Samsung joint announcement

Local and state officials have made statements welcoming Samsung to Taylor following the announcement that the city will be home to its new $17 billion semiconductor fabrication plant. 

Austin City Council will meet for a work session dedicated to housing affordability discussions Nov. 30. (Community Impact Newspaper staff)
Austin City Hall notebook: Council set for dive into housing, development after Thanksgiving break

A Nov. 30 work session could see city leaders work through a range of adjustments to city development code, rules and processes.

The new initiative will build the communities capacity to address homelessness along with collecting data from people who have increased access to those in need. (Olivia Aldridge/Community Impact Newspaper)
ECHO, St. David's Foundation launch new program to build a community approach to homelessness

The program aims to address inequities in traditional homelessness response.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott sits beside Samsung CEO Dr. Kinam Kim as he announces the company is brining a $17 billion facility to Taylor. (Screnshot via KXAN)
Samsung makes it official: Announcement from Governor's Mansion confirms $17B facility coming to Taylor

Nearly a year after Williamson County officials began pitching Samsung to bring a megafacility to the area, the electronics giant has made it official.

Bill Curci is a chief operating partner for Shuck Me, a seafood restaurant in Fort Worth. (Bailey Lewis/Community Impact Newspaper)
CI TEXAS ROUNDUP: Fort Worth restaurant Shuck Me is fishing- and family-centric; a guide to Houston's 2021 Thanksgiving Day Parade and more top news

Take a look at the top five trending stories across Community Impact Newspaper’s coverage areas in Texas as of Nov. 23.

Dr. Desmar Walkes, Austin-Travis County health authority, discusses Thanksgiving safety at a news conference. (Darcy Sprague/Community Impact Newspaper)
Austin health authorities remind community of COVID-19 risk ahead of Thanksgiving

Austin health officials warned of a high rate of community transmission ahead of Thanksgiving.

Lizzy and Brandon Simon are running the North Austin location. (Courtesy Lizzy Simon)
Operation Turkey to provide thousands in need with Thanksgiving meals

One local couple is running a North Austin site with the goal of serving 2,500 meals to those in need this Thanksgiving.

Williamson County officials met with Samsung executives at Dell Diamond in January. (Courtesy Williamson County)
For the love of the game: How baseball may have been perfect start for Samsung in Williamson County

The first attempt to bring Samsung to Williamson County relied on a passion for what is considered America’s pastime.

Capital Metro is still deciding if it will put the MetroRail Red Line above or below the North Lamar and Airport boulevards intersection. (Jack Flagler/Community Impact Newspaper)
Capital Metro moves forward with funding for one of Project Connect’s ‘most complex’ intersections

The North Lamar Boulevard and Airport Boulevard intersection will eventually have the Red, Blue and Orange lines running through it.