AUSTIN, Texas — The State of Texas will soon release the next groups of people eligible for the coronavirus vaccine. Many are wondering who will be in the Phase 1C group for COVID-19 vaccine eligibility.
A spokesperson for the Texas Department of State Health Services told KVUE on Tuesday the state agency could have an announcement as soon as this week but would not provide additional specifics.
Currently in Texas, the COVID-19 vaccine is only available to frontline healthcare workers, long term care staff and residents, people over the age of 65, or anyone older than 16 with an underlying condition that could contribute to severe illness from a COVID-19 illness.
Last week, DSHS directed vaccine providers in Texas to start vaccinating educators and child care workers at the direction of the federal government.
“The vaccine supply is increasing so rapidly, Texas will soon expand the categories of people who are able to get them,” Gov. Greg Abbott said during his March 2 announcement to reopen the state and lift the statewide mask mandate.
Now, a week later, it appears the announcement for additional eligibility is imminent.
In December, a Centers for Disease Control committee recommended to states and local governments who should be included in the vaccine allocation phases. The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) made the recommendations because the vaccine supply was expected to be limited at first.
The CDC’s recommendations for Phase 1C include the following groups:
- People 65 to 74 years old
- People 16 to 64 years old with underlying medical conditions
- Other essential workers, including transportation or food service workers, information technology, energy, law, media or public safety employees
While that’s an idea of who could be next in line, there’s some history on this topic. Texas hasn’t always followed the federal guidance on COVID-19 vaccine allocation.
The CDC’s guidance for Phase 1B recommended people over the age of 75 be eligible to get the shot. Instead, the state’s Expert Vaccine Allocation Panel (EVAP) recommended younger people over the age of 65 be able to start getting vaccinated.
The panel takes into consideration the guidance from the ACIP, as well as “equitable distribution across urban and rural communities.”
At the time, Gov. Abbott’s office responded to questions about the deviation from federal guidance with the following statement:
"The state’s Expert Vaccine Allocation Panel felt strongly about protecting those Texans at the highest risk of severe illness and death from COVID-19. Morbidity and mortality data clearly shows that people over 65 years of age and/or with one of the chronic illnesses listed in the Phase 1b guidelines, are in greater danger of dying or ending up in the hospital, ICU or on a ventilator if they do get sick with COVID-19. By focusing on people in those categories, the vaccine will protect the most vulnerable Texans across various population and work sectors, including education. These populations are as diverse as Texas, and as production of vaccine continues to ramp up, Texas will utilize the vaccine available in Phase 1b to vaccinate those most at risk of dying or being hospitalized.”
Ultimately, the Texas Commissioner of Health approves who is next in line.
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