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Vaccine demand follows Austin ZIP codes with most COVID cases

VaxTogether Austin, a volunteer organization that connects individuals to vaccine appointments, has a number of upcoming free vaccine clinics scheduled in and around Austin. (VaxTogether Austin/Facebook)

With nearly 1,600 new COVID cases reported in Austin-Travis County in the past week, there is renewed attention on vaccine outreach.

Public health officials are working toward a vaccination rate of 70% by Labor Day. With 62.94% of the Travis County population 12 and older fully vaccinated as of Thursday, it would take around 14,000 residents reaching fully vaccinated status each week to achieve this goal.

Austin Public Health and CommUnity Care administered around 600 doses the week ending July 26, according to APH data, with the most doses being administered in the 78744, 78753, 78758, 78624 and 78745 ZIP codes.

This roughly aligns with the ZIP codes that saw the highest number of new confirmed cases, according to APH. As of July 23, they included:

  • 78660: 8,794
  • 78744: 5,316
  • 78753: 4,595
  • 78741: 4,441
  • 78758: 3,978

APH is focusing its vaccine outreach efforts on Black and Hispanic communities, given that their members are underrepresented in vaccine uptake compared to their share of the overall population.

"We want in August to see a significant increase in the number of vaccines that we're able to administer, and we are going to do everything that we can in terms of our key messaging and making sure that folks understand the importance of vaccines as well as have access to vaccines in their community to drive those numbers up," Austin-Travis County Health Authority Dr. Desmar Walkes told Travis County commissioners on Tuesday.

Still, vaccine uptick remains slow, with an average of 1,145 doses administered by APH and CommUnity Care each week over the last month.

When looking at all vaccine providers in Travis County, the numbers improve, with 16,402 doses administered during the week ending July 25, according to the Texas Department of State Health Services.

Although demand has plummeted in recent months, it does appear to be trending slightly upward amid news of the more contagious Delta variant and rising case counts, with a 30% increase in doses administered week-over-week, according to DSHS.

Employers are also increasingly requiring employees to get the jab. Facebook—with more than 1,000 Austin employees—announced on Wednesday it would require all U.S. employees to provide proof of vaccination to work. Ascension, one of Austin's largest employers, announced earlier on Tuesday that it will require all of its employees to be vaccinated by mid-November. Baylor Scott & White Health and the Department of Veteran Affairs, both of which have multiple Austin locations, also recently announced similar requirements.


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