Austin Public Health announced Jan. 8 that it has been selected by the Texas Department of State Health Services to serve as a regional vaccination hub for the next allotment of COVID-19 vaccine doses. The news follows DSHS's Jan. 7 announcement that 200,000 doses from the state's next shipment would be spread between a relatively small number of facilities chosen for their ability to efficiently vaccinate large groups of qualified individuals.
APH said in a news release that it expects to receive 12,000 doses from the state next week—the largest shipment the organization has received so far by a wide margin, although still only enough to vaccinate less than 1% of the Austin-Travis County-area population. APH had previously only received around 1,300 doses. The new shipment will first be administered to residents of long-term care facilities not already involved in the federal pharmacy program to vaccinate members belonging to that group.
“While this pilot allocation is the largest given to us to date, it is important to note that it is still not nearly enough to cover everyone who will want the vaccine in our community,” APH Director Stephanie Hayden said in the announcement. “There is an estimated 200,000 residents without traditional health insurance over the age of 16 that may need to be vaccinated by a safety net provider like Austin Public Health. We have a long road ahead, but we are excited to take the first step toward vaccinating those most vulnerable to this pandemic.”
APH also indicated that it would soon launch a centralized registration for area residents seeking vaccination, a move Travis County commissioners had called for earlier in the week. However, APH encouraged community members to seek vaccination from other local providers if possible in order to reserve APH's stock for "our most vulnerable populations."
DSHS has yet to release the full list of "vaccination hubs" and other recipients for the next week of vaccine distribution.