What You Need To Know About Texas' COVID-19 Vaccine Rollout – KERA News


As the Texas Department of State Health Services begins to expand who’s eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine, many Texans feel in the dark about how and when they’ll be able to get inoculated.

So far, Texas DSHS has reported that 414,211 individuals have been given at least one dose of the vaccine since Dec.13. About 49% of those shots were given over the past week.

Still, despite the news that Texas DSHS has told vaccine providers to start serving the elderly and other higher-risk people, the majority of the vaccines doled out up to this point have gone to front-line healthcare workers or residents of long-term care facilities.

Who Is Getting The Vaccine?

Who in Texas Is Getting the COVID-19 Vaccine First?

Right now, the COVID-19 vaccine is in limited supply. In Texas, according to DSHS, that means shots are only being given to folks in the Phase 1A and 1B groups.

Phase 1A is made up of two tiers. The first tier includes folks working directly with patients who are positive or at high risk for COVID-19 like: physicians, nurses, respiratory therapists and other support staff. Home healthcare workers, paramedics and long-term care staff and residents are also in the first tier.

Phase 1A’s second tier includes staff in outpatient care settings who interact with symptomatic patients, staff in free-standing emergency medical care facilities, pharmacists who are administering COVID-19 vaccines and last responders who provide mortuary or death services.

People who are 65-years-old and older are in Phase 1B. But they’re not alone. Those who are 16-years-old and older with at least one chronic medical condition that puts them at increased risk for severe illness from the virus that causes COVID-19 are also part of Phase 1B.

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How Were They Chosen?

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In an attempt to effectively deploy the COVID-19 vaccine, Texas DSHS created a 17-person committee called the Expert Vaccine Allocation Panel (EVAP). The EVAP helped DSHS identify which groups should be vaccinated first, and how much of the vaccine regions in the state should receive.

Some of the principles that guided the group, according to DSHS, were an equitable distribution across urban and rural communities, protecting healthcare and front-line workers and minimizing death to already-vulnerable populations.

Where Do I Go To Get Vaccinated?

The first thing Texas DSHS recommends is visiting the Texas COVID-19 Vaccine Provider Locations map to see vaccine providers near you. If you spot a place near you, don’t show up at the hospital or clinic looking for a vaccine. Instead, visit the providers’ website for information about vaccine availability.

If you can’t find the information you need on their website, give the provider a call and ask them to get you placed on a waiting list. But you should know that these providers have been flooded with calls in recent days and may not be able to provide a date for the vaccination. Again, supplies are limited.

There are also folks who are crowd-sourcing information about where vaccinations are available. Check that out here.

Who Can Register To Get The Vaccine?

In North Texas pretty much anyone can register to get the COVID-19 vaccine. But if you’re not in the Phase 1A or 1B groups, stay patient. Texas DSHS has said that they expect to start serving the general population in the Spring of 2021.

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Click on your county to register:

How Does The Vaccine Work?

How Does the COVID-19 Vaccine Work?

The COVID-19 vaccine is given in two doses. The first dose is given to an individual by a doctor or pharmacist, and afterward, the vaccinated person will be monitored for about a half-hour to ensure there isn’t an allergic reaction to the shot.

Then, about three weeks later, the individual will return to receive the second dose. The two doses are about 95% effective in protecting people from catching COVID-19. But it’s still unknown whether or not someone who has previously had the coronavirus can carry the virus after vaccination.

How Much Does The Vaccination Cost?

The federal government has purchased hundreds of millions of doses of the COVID-19 vaccine. Health officials have ensured folks that they can receive their COVID-19 vaccine for free, regardless of insurance or other medical qualifications.

So, in theory, you can get the vaccine for free anywhere it’s available. But as the number of providers increases, you will want to make sure you’ve been given documentation about the costs.

If you have insurance, the vaccine provider you choose to visit will ask you for your insurance information. But if you don’t have that information with you, the cost of the vaccine should still be free.

Got a tip? Email Hady Mawajdeh at hady@KERA.org. You can follow Hady on Twitter @hadysauce.

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