Austin Public Health has administered 28,717 coronavirus vaccines so far, expects 12,000 more doses next week

Photo of vacccine vials
Austin Public Health is set to receive 12,000 vaccines the week of Feb. 1. (Ali Linan/Community Impact Newspaper)

Austin Public Health is set to receive 12,000 vaccines the week of Feb. 1. (Ali Linan/Community Impact Newspaper)

Austin Public Health has administered 28,717 initial coronavirus doses so far and has begun administering second doses to some individuals, APH leaders said at a Jan. 29 news conference.

APH, a regional hub provider of vaccines in Texas, is still vaccinating those who qualify under Phase 1B, with priority for people over age 65, of whom there are over 129,000 in Travis County, according to APH Director Stephanie Hayden-Howard.

Individuals who have pre-qualified for a vaccine through APH’s registration portal should wait to be contacted when an appointment becomes available, Hayden-Howard said.

“When you register for a vaccine, you’re put on a waitlist,” she said. “We would rather folks not continue to go into that system because there will not be appointments available. It’s not like scheduling a doctor’s appointment. We only provide an appointment when we have vaccine to go along with that appointment.”

APH said in a follow-up news release Jan. 29 that the Texas Department of State Health Services has allocated 12,000 more doses to the organization for the week of Feb. 1.

However, Dr. Mark Escott, Austin-Travis County interim health authority, said broader distribution of the vaccine could be on the horizon with the approval of a new vaccine manufactured by Johnson & Johnson and Janssen Pharmaceuticals. Johnson & Johnson published the results of its Phase 3 clinical trials Jan. 29, announcing a 72% protection rate in United States trials once 28 days have elapsed since vaccination. Within 50 days, protection rises to 100%, Escott said.

“There are lots of benefits to this vaccine in terms of the public health response,” he said. “Primarily, it's a single dose, which makes it a lot easier to get people effectively vaccinated, and it only requires refrigeration, so it makes it easier to get out.”

Johnson & Johnson said in a news release that is intends to file for emergency use authorization with the U.S. Food & Drug Administration in early February, and the product will be ready to ship as soon as it is approved.

Next week, APH will open an additional vaccine distribution site in northern Travis County, joining two others located in the eastern crescent of Travis County.

Two of APH’s existing test sites for COVID-19 have closed—those located at Givens Recreation Center and the Little Walnut Creek Branch of the Austin Library—in order to “better utilize APH’s resources,” according to the release.
By Olivia Aldridge

Multi-Platform Journalist

Olivia hosts and produces Community Impact Newspaper's podcasts, The Austin Breakdown, The Houston Breakdown and The DFW Breakdown. She launched the podcasts after nearly three years as a reporter for the newspaper, covering public health, business, development and Travis County government for the Central Austin edition. Olivia worked as a reporter and producer for South Carolina Public Radio before moving to Texas.