Gov. Greg Abbott said at a Dec. 17 press conference that by the end of the week, the state will have shipped roughly 224,000 vaccines from drug company Pfizer to Texas hospitals. Plans are to ramp up distribution further next week when the Moderna vaccine becomes available in the state, he said.
“Long-term health care facilities will be receiving these vaccines later on this month as well as local health departments, state hospitals and state-supported living centers,” Abbott said.
Among the first to receive the new vaccines will be residents who are more vulnerable to the virus, including older residents and those with existing medical conditions that increase the risk of hospitalization or death, Abbott said.
The governor reiterated that he would not pursue further business shutdowns, urging personal responsibility from residents to slow the viral spread.
The state’s top health official said that continued compliance with mask orders and public health guidelines would remain essential in the coming months before the vaccine is widely administered.
“This is the ray of hope at the end of the tunnel, but we’re not done yet,” said John Hellerstedt, Texas Department of State Health Services commissioner.
More than 9,500 Texans were known to be hospitalized with the virus as of Dec. 16, the highest number recorded since late July.
More than 1 million doses of the vaccine are expected to be shipped before the end of the year in Texas, Abbott said. The state has 29 million residents, according to the latest government surveys.
Abbott said the speed of vaccine distribution will rise over time as manufacturing accelerates. Other companies—including Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca—are expected to begin distributing their vaccines in the early months of 2021, he said.
Health care workers have been among the earliest to receive vaccinations because of their ongoing role in caring directly for patients with the virus that has been linked to more than 24,000 deaths in Texas since the start of the pandemic.
“Everybody owes a debt of gratitude to these doctors and nurses who have been on the front lines for months now,” Abbott said.