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.