AUSTIN (KXAN) – Starting Monday, if you’re between the ages of 50 and 64, you can start signing up for a COVID-19 vaccine. The age group is part of Phase 1C, which according to the Texas Department of State Health Services will become eligible on March 15.
As the demand for vaccines still outstrips supply, people in 1C may not get their shots for weeks, according to DSHS.
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“Suppliers can continue to prioritize those in 1A and 1B,” DSHS spokesperson Douglas Loveday said in an email Thursday. “The supply of vaccines is still limited and we are not getting enough vaccines from the federal government to be able to allocate doses to all Texas suppliers who want to administer the vaccine. ”
Texas is expected to receive fewer first doses next week. The DSHS also says the state has received fewer doses than it should, because the federal government is using old census data to calculate the population.
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Loveday went on Friday, saying vaccinations are still open to school and childcare providers and Phase 1C as of Monday, but “we expect providers will continue to prioritize those most vulnerable to serious illness or death at the their vaccination. sites in the weeks and months to come. ”
Williamson County is one of those hubs that will prioritize phases 1A and 1B.
“People can now access the Williamson County centralized waitlist to join and select who are in the state’s category 1C between the ages of 50 and 64 or update their entry to declare they are in Phase 1C,” he explained. spokesperson Connie Odom.
He said they currently have about 22,000 people on the waiting list who are over 65 and another 44,000 who are in 1B.
“We will be able to send scheduling invitations to these people in the next two weeks, then we will start sending vaccination appointment emails to people in category 1C as a vaccine supply. from the state allows it, “Odom said.
This is something that Russ Pothast, 69, believes should happen.
“We need to cater to groups 1A and 1B before we start adding more people to the mix,” said Pothast, who lives in Pflugerville with his wife.
The two have been waiting for their turn for about a month.
“If there are more people joining group 1C, it will become even more difficult for us to get a date,” Pothast worried. He is enrolled in both Williamson County and Austin Public Health.
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Austin Regional Clinic holds a Senior Vaccination Clinic. (Photo courtesy of the Austin Regional Clinic)
Austin Regional Clinic is following the same strategy.
“The priority, in my mind, should still be trying to reach those at highest risk first,” said Dr. Manish Naik, head of medical information at the Austin Regional Clinic.
Naik said narrowing down a timeline is tricky, because people are often on multiple waiting lists.
“People are doing what we told them, but it makes it a little harder to track down who got it and who didn’t,” he said.
That’s why Naik said ARC has an internal point system that ranks priority based on age and condition. He said they usually send out more invitations to appointments than assignments to account for those who may have been vaccinated elsewhere.
“It is possible that if we get more funding and many of those patients have already been vaccinated, we may be able to get to that age group between 50 and 64 earlier. But we don’t know exactly what those numbers are right now, ”Naik said.
A spokesperson for the vaccination site at the Circuit of the Americas they said they will add 1C appointments for their patients right away.
Current appointments are still only for CommUnityCare eligible patients who have been identified in Travis, Hays, Bastrop and Caldwell counties.
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Austin Public Health previously said it would open appointments to 1C people starting Monday. However, in an updated statement on Friday evening, it is stated that staff will continue to prioritize people in phases 1A and 1B, after learning that the APH has not gotten an increase in vaccine allocation for the next week. from the state.
“Once we have an additional vaccine, we will consider expanding eligibility in our system to Phase 1C,” the statement read.
CVS Health said in a statement that appointments on its website will be on a first-come, first-served basis no matter what stage you fall into.
Appointments on CVS.com for COVID-19 vaccinations are available on a first-come, first-served basis.
Naik said getting more vaccine stocks will speed up the process for everyone.
“With President Biden’s goals of being able to open it in early May to all adults, if we really want to achieve that goal, then I think we need to get a lot more vaccines, which are presumably on the way, but we’re still waiting. than that, “he said.