As COVID-19 hospitalizations track upward, Austin Public Health renews call for vaccinations

Photo of a hand holding a vaccine vial
Hannah Sullivan, a student at Galen College of Nursing, holds a vial of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine. (Lauren Canterberry/Community Impact Newspaper)

Hannah Sullivan, a student at Galen College of Nursing, holds a vial of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine. (Lauren Canterberry/Community Impact Newspaper)

Austin Public Health and Travis County are redoubling efforts to promote vaccination as the county's coronavirus case levels track further into Stage 4 risk territory.

Travis County launched a new vaccine clinic calendar and map on July 27 so that community members could more easily track pop-up COVID-19 vaccination clinics around Austin. Earlier in the year, Travis County and its partners held mass vaccination clinics at the Circuit of the Americas, but the county pivoted to move clinics into under-vaccinated neighborhoods as vaccine uptake decreased this spring.

"Last week, we only delivered 620 [doses]. We want to see that number go up," Austin Public Health director Adrienne Sturrup said during a briefing to local officials.

As coronavirus-related hospitalizations increase and the contagious delta variant circulates, APH representatives continue to stress that vaccination is the highest form of protection against the virus and its variants. However, a recent increase in "breakthrough" infections among vaccinated people in Travis County point to a need for additional precautions, including wearing masks in indoor spaces. Of nearly 687,000 fully vaccinated Travis County residents, 623 have gone on to test positive for coronavirus, or around one 10th of a percent. Data showed 396 of the cases occurred in July.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on July 27 echoed APH's urging for vaccinated people to wear masks, renewing guidance asking all Americans to mask up while in K-12 schools and in communities with substantial or high COVID-19 transmission. Travis County fits the CDC's definition of a high transmission community, with nearly 95 cases per every 100,000 people in the past seven days.

This week, the 27.62% of eligible Travis County residents who have not received at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine have more than 40 options for pop-up clinics sponsored by the county and APH. Vaccines remain available at other pharmacies, clinics and medical offices as well.

Sturrup also said APH would begin ramping up its coronavirus testing capacity again, with new sites coming online this month.
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.


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