Texans who are 65 years old and older, and those who are at least 16 with certain chronic medical conditions will be next in line for the COVID-19 vaccine, the Texas Department of State Health Services announced on Monday.
“The focus on people who are age 65 and older or who have comorbidities will protect the most vulnerable populations,” said Imelda Garcia, chair of the state Expert Vaccine Allocation Panel and DSHS associate commissioner for laboratory and infectious diseases. “This approach ensures that Texans at the most severe risk from COVID-19 can be protected across races and ethnicities and regardless of where they work.”
The vaccine, which arrived in Texas last Monday, has so far only been available to front-line health care workers and residents of long-term care facilities. There are nearly 1.9 million Texans in that group, so it will likely take a few weeks before the state transitions to the next phase, state health officials said.
The state expects to receive 1.4 million vaccine doses by the end of the month. Eligible facilities under the current phase include hospitals, pharmacies, nursing homes and Texas Department of Criminal Justices facilities.
A panel — comprised of state lawmakers, state and local health officials, medical experts and researchers — recommended those eligible for the next phase on Dec. 17. Dr. John Hellerstedt, DSHS commissioner, approved the recommendation Monday.
More than 42,000 doses of the vaccine had been administered in Texas as of Monday, state data shows.
Qualifying conditions for the next phase of the vaccine include, but are not limited to:
- Chronic kidney disease
- COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease)
- Heart conditions, such as heart failure, coronary artery disease or cardiomyopathies
- Solid organ transplantation
- Obesity and severe obesity (body mass index of 30 kg/m2 or higher)
- Sickle cell disease
- Type 2 diabetes mellitus
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