This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune: Read More
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All Texas adults will be eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine regardless of age, occupation or health status starting on March 29, state health officials said Tuesday.
The Texas Department of State Health Services is still asking providers to prioritize appointments for people 80 years old or older and to prioritize walk-ins from anyone in that age group who shows up without an appointment.
“We are closing in on 10 million doses administered in Texas, and we want to keep up the momentum as the vaccine supply increases,” said Imelda Garcia, DSHS associate commissioner for laboratory and infectious disease services and the chair of the Expert Vaccine Allocation Panel.
Until now, eligibility for the vaccine was mainly restricted to a few groups: Health care workers, people ages 50 and older, those with certain comorbidities who are 16 or older, and employees of schools and daycare centers. Texas began receiving vaccines in mid-December.
As of Tuesday, Texas had administered more than 9.3 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine. More than 6 million people have received at least one dose and more than 3 million have been fully vaccinated, according to state health officials.
Health experts have said that between 70% and 90% of Texans must be vaccinated in order to reach herd immunity and stop the spread of the virus. Texas has about 29 million residents, nearly a quarter of whom are under 18. Of the three vaccines available, only the two-dose Pfizer vaccine is available for ages 16 and up. The others, manufactured by Moderna and Johnson & Johnson, are available for ages 18 and up.
President Joe Biden recently directed states to make the vaccine available to all adults by May 1.
The state is also launching a website next week for people to sign up for vaccines at public health centers and state-run clinics. The Texas Public Health Vaccine Scheduler will alert participants to upcoming events and available appointments. For those who do not have access to the internet, the state will also be creating a hotline to find appointments by phone, officials said.
This story is developing.