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11 Austin area facilities will receive the Pfizer COVID vaccine this week, with more doses on the way
(Pexels)

Eleven healthcare providers in Central Texas will receive a collective 16,575 doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine starting Monday as part of the state's initial shipment.


The following facilities in Hays, Travis and Williamson counties will receive between 975 and 2,925 doses of the vaccine, according to the Texas Department of State Health Services:

  • Seton Medical Center Hays
  • Seton Medical Center Austin
  • Dell Children's Medical Center of Central Texas
  • South Austin Medical Center
  • Dell Seton Medical Center at the University of Texas
  • UT Health Austin
  • Austin State Hospital
  • North Austin Medical Center
  • St. David's Medical Center
  • Round Rock Medical Center
  • Baylor Scott & White Health Medical Center Round Rock

UT Health Austin will receive its 2,925 dose allotment on Monday, a DSHS spokesperson confirmed to Austonia. Three other facilities—UT Health San Antonio, UT MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston and Methodist Dallas Medical Center—will also receive between 4,875 and 5,850 doses of the vaccine on Monday.

The remaining locations are expected to receive their vaccine shipments later in the week.

Ultimately, 109 sites across the state will receive more than 220,000 doses of the vaccine as part of this initial allotment.

Gov. Greg Abbott has said Texas will receive 1.4 million doses by the end of the year, which is just slightly more than the 1.3 million cases confirmed statewide since the start of the pandemic.

Who will receive the vaccine first?

Front-line healthcare workers and EMS first responders have been identified as top priority recipients by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as well as state and local health authorities.

Nursing home residents and staff are also considered critical recipients. But most long-term care facilities, including nursing homes, will receive doses of the Pfizer vaccine through a federal program separate from the initial allotment happening this week.

Abbott announced Friday that the state will participate in the Pharmacy Partnership for Long-Term Care Program. Registered facilities will receive vaccines and staff assistance from partnership Walgreens and CVS locations free of charge starting on Dec. 28.

In Travis County, staff and residents at long-term care facilities account for nearly 42% of the 505 COVID deaths reported as of Sunday.

There are 139 long-term care facilities registered in Travis County, with a total of 8,419 residents among them, according to Texas Health and Human Services. Staff data was not available.

Logistical challenges

One concern raised by public health officials is how to convince vaccine skeptics as the distribution process gets underway.

Austin-Travis County Interim Health Authority Dr. Mark Escott reviewed Pfizer's application for an emergency use authorization, which was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Friday.

"After reviewing that (document), I'll say that I'm extremely impressed with the efficacy and safety of this vaccine," he said Wednesday. "Overall, the effectiveness of the vaccine—95% for those individuals between the ages of 16 and 55—(is) so much better than I think anyone expected it to be."

The side effects associated with the vaccine are "relatively mild," Escott added, and akin to those seen with other vaccines: chills, muscle aches and swelling.

"Really no serious or concerning adverse events that would give us pause in terms of encouraging (its) use," he said.

But Patty Ducayet, the state's long-term care ombudsman, told Austonia last week that she has heard a "diversity of opinion" from residents' families. "I think we have a bit of a battle ahead of us," she said.

Next steps

It will likely take many months before the vaccine is widely available to the general public, and local health officials have stressed that Austinites will need to maintain protective measures—such as masking, social distancing and hand washing—until herd immunity is achieved through mass vaccination.

It is likely, however, that Pfizer will soon be joined by other pharmaceutical companies in distributing a vaccine.

The FDA will meet with its advisory panel on Thursday to review Moderna's application for an EUA. Its vaccine works similarly to Pfizer's, requiring two doses, and the pharmaceutical company has posted similarly promising results in its clinical trials.

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