Beginning this week, Texans age 50 and older will be eligible to be vaccinated.
Expanding vaccine eligibility to those who are ages 50 – 64 continues to ensure those who are at greatest risk of hospitalizations and death from COVID-19 are protected.
Texans 50 and over account for 93% of all deaths. More than half of all seniors have already been vaccinated with at least one dose of a vaccine and 30% of those are fully vaccinated.
The direct result of these efforts has dramatically contributed to the decrease in the number of hospitalizations and deaths. I applaud the hard work by our healthcare and frontline workers who continue to tirelessly work around the clock to ensure our vaccine distribution system is as quick, efficient, and accessible as possible.
In December 2020, I was appointed as a member of the Expert Vaccine Allocation Panel, or EVAP, by Lt. Governor Dan Patrick and my dear friend Sen. Lois Kolkhorst, the current Chair of the Health and Human Services Committee. This dedicated group is composed of external and internal subject-matter experts and is charged with developing the vaccine allocation strategies. These strategies would then be recommended to the Texas Commissioner of Health for final approval and implementation.
As a member of EVAP, I often get asked how our experts determine who will be next in line to get vaccinated. There is not an easy answer. There are many factors that must be considered when determining the next eligible group. I can assure you and your family, however, that our experts use the best available medical science to develop and apply the necessary guiding principles that we use in our recommendations to the Health Commissioner. These principals will ensure that there is equitable distribution across urban and rural communities and that vulnerable populations will always be prioritized.
With the expansion of the vaccine to individuals over the age of 50, we have now moved into our next phase of vaccine distribution – distribution coming from Additional Supply.
Until today, the State was operating under Limited Supply. That meant that Texans were eligible to be vaccinated only if they came from the following groups – 1A (Healthcare workers, first responders, and residents of long-term care facilities), 1B (persons 65+ or 16+ with at least one chronic medical condition), and most recently, school and licensed childcare professionals.
As we move into our Additional Supply distribution phase, we have added a new eligible group 1C (Texans ages 50+). The eligibility factors for the next eligible group, group number 2, is still under consideration. The last phase in the distribution plan means distribution from Broad Supply. The eligibility factors for this group are still under consideration.
We are getting more doses of the Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccines every day and distribution is continuing statewide to hospitals, pharmacies, local health departments, and other clinics.
As we continue to get Texans vaccinated, I assure you that as a member of EVAP and as your state senator, our community will continue to be a priority and a part of the vaccine conversation.
I encourage everyone to follow updates at dshs.texas.gov and to continue to follow CDC recommendations.
Editor’s Note: The above guest column was penned by state Sen. Eddie Lucio, Jr, D-Brownsville. Sen. Lucio represents Senate District 27 which encompasses Cameron, Hidalgo (part), Willacy, Kenedy, and Kleberg Counties. He is the Vice-Chair of the Senate Finance Committee, Vice-Chair of the Senate Education Committee, and is a member of the Senate Natural Resources & Economic Development, State Affairs, Ports (Select), and Redistricting (Special) committees.
Editor’s Note: The main image accompanying the above guest column shows 93-year-old Majorie Porter of Mission receiving her COVID-19 vaccine. The vaccine was administered by a nurse at DHR Health. It was the 100,000th COVID vaccine provided in the Rio Grande Valley by DHR Health.
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