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Texas joins states making vaccines available to all adults

A woman receives a bandage after getting her injection at a 24-hour vaccination event in Austin.
A woman receives a bandage after getting her injection at a 24-hour vaccination event in Austin.(Sergio Flores for The Texas Tribune)
Published: Mar. 23, 2021 at 12:55 PM CDT
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AUSTIN, Texas (AP) - Texas is becoming the most populous state to expand COVID-19 vaccine eligibility to all adults, more than a month before President Joe Biden’s goal of making the shots available to anyone who wants one by May 1.

The announcement by state health officials Tuesday adds Texas to the rapidly growing list of states that are making the vaccine available to all adults. The drastic expansion for the state’s nearly 30 million residents will begin Monday.

Also next week, DSHS will launch a website to allow people to register for a shot through some public health providers. The public will be able to enroll in the Texas Public Health Vaccine Scheduler to identify upcoming vaccine clinics hosted by DSHS or a participating local health department and be notified when new clinics and appointments become available. People can continue to find additional providers though the DSHS Vaccine Information page at dshs.texas.gov/covidvaccine.

Online registration will be the best option for most people. For those for whom that is not an option, DSHS will launch a toll-free number to provide assistance making an appointment with a participating provider or locating another provider that has vaccine available.

“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, chairwoman of the state’s Expert Vaccine Allocation Panel.

For the past two weeks, Texas has been the nation’s largest state with no coronavirus restrictions after Republican Gov. Greg Abbott repealed a mask mandate that has divided businesses and lifted limits on restaurant and retail occupancy. Hospitalizations in Texas have plummeted to their lowest levels since October, but local health officials say they are again watching the numbers closely after spring break last week.

Alaska was the first state to open up vaccine eligibility to all adults, and others are now rushing to do the same, including Tennessee and Missouri.

Texas has one of the nation’s slowest vaccination rates. Roughly 10% of the state’s population had been fully vaccinated as of Tuesday, and about 22% had received at least one dose, according the U.S. Centers for Disease Control.

State officials have blamed the numbers on February’s blackouts from a deadly winter storm and claimed that federal officials have used outdated Census data to determine Texas’ shipment of doses.

Biden earlier this month used his first prime-time address to pledge that all adults in the U.S. would be eligible for the vaccine starting May 1.

Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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