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The COVID-19 vaccine supply is growing, thanks to the FDA's recent approval of Johnson & Johnson's one-shot candidate. More Texans are now eligible to receive the vaccine. And providers are taking note of some of the technical glitches that have made it difficult for some Austinites to make appointments.
But some residents who have already received the first dose of either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine have found scheduling a follow-up appointment an anxiety-producing process.
Provider policies vary, with some scheduling first and second dose appointments at the same time and others following up via phone or email in the interim period. Most recommend that patients receive both of their shots from the same provider. This is for two reasons:
- Providers automatically receive corresponding shipments of second doses from the state three to four weeks after the shipment of first doses is allocated.
- Patients need to receive both doses from the same manufacturer.
But even people who plan on returning to the same provider that administered their first shot have found the process confusing. Austonia asked 10 providers what their patients can expect when it comes to making their second dose appointment.
Seton Medical Center received the largest vaccine allocation of any Travis County provider this week: a total of 14,040 doses. Most of these however are being transferred to supply drive-thru vaccine clinics at the Circuit of the Americas, a collaboration of Ascension Seton, CommUnity Health Centers and Travis, Bastrop, Caldwell and Hays counties.
Otherwise, Ascension Seton providers offering vaccines will schedule second dose appointments at the time of the first dose. More information can be found here.
Austin Public Health
APH, one of two hub providers in Travis County, requires appointments for second doses. If you received your first dose through APH, the department will reach out via phone or email to schedule an appointment.
Once you have completed your first dose through APH, your appointment status in the department's pre-registration system will note you as "Completed." If your account does not show this status, you should fill out this form to correct the error. The department strongly recommends recipients upload a photo of their vaccine card to expedite the process.
If you received your first dose through APH and have not received a second appointment within the six week interval recommended by the CDC, you may walk up to any APH site and present your vaccine card to receive your second dose. More information can be found here.
Austin Regional Clinic
ARC is currently vaccinating established patients who meet the state eligibility requirements and have been deemed priority based on their electronic medical record, which considers age and health risk. If you have received your first dose from ARC and have a MyChart account, log in to find a scheduling ticket to book your second dose appointment. If you do not have a MyChar account, ARC will call you to book a follow-up appointment. More information can be found here.
Baylor Scott & White Health
Baylor Scott & White Health schedules second dose appointments at the time of the first dose appointment. Patients can register for their first dose using the MyBSWHealth digital portal online, the corresponding app or by calling 844-279-9222. More information can be found here.
CommUnityCare is only vaccinating established patients, meaning those who have seen a primary care provider at one of its clinics within the last year. CUC will reach out to patients who received a first dose at one of CUC's clinics, the Delco Activity Center or the Circuit of the Americas via text message with detailed information about their second appointment. More information can be found here.
When patients make an appointment for their initial shot online or through the CVS app, they are prompted to schedule an appointment for their second dose at the same time (if receiving Moderna or Pfizer). More information can be found here.
H-E-B Pharmacy automatically schedules second dose appointments after patients receive their first dose. More information can be found here.
UT Health Austin
UT Health Austin, the clinical wing of Dell Medical School and Travis County's other hub provider, schedules second dose appointments at the time of the first shot. If you received your first dose at another facility, you can fill out this request form. If you are eligible and there is enough vaccine available, UT Health Austin will reach out to schedule an appointment. More information can be found here.
Pharmacy staff will schedule a second appointment on-site when customers receive their first dose at a Sam's Club or Walmart location. In addition to appointments, the online scheduler will provide a digital reminder when it is time to return for the second appointment. More information, including links to the Walmart and Sam's Club schedulers, can be found here.
Williamson County's partner Family Hospital Systems will email first dose recipients within a week to schedule second dose appointments, which will take place 28 to 42 days after the first appointment. FHS does not accept walk-ups. More information can be found here.
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After Austin voters passed Proposition B, reinstating a ban on public camping, City Council directed staff to look into possible sanctioned campsites where homeless residents could live legally. Now two members are asking to shelve discussion on the controversial topic.
Staff presented dozens of possible sanctioned campsites across each fo the 10 council districts in late May, following the election. But members mostly pushed back on the proposed locations, citing cost, wildfire risk and lack of transparency as concerns.
With updated criteria, staff recommended two sites—one in District 1 and the other in District 8—for further review last week. After being briefed on the options during Tuesday's work session, Mayor Pro Tem Natasha Harper-Madison, who represents District 1, and Council Member Paige Ellis, who represents District 8, issued a joint statement proposing "a pause" on further discussion of temporary sanctioned encampments.
"We are not convinced that these sites would be a cost-effective solution, but rather a band-aid tactic when we need to be supporting the long-term strategy to get folks off the street permanent," they said. "It is our responsibility to look at the situation holistically and objectively, and to spend out city's limited resources on solutions we know can work."
Homeless Strategy Officer Dianna Grey noted that the two locations were imperfect and would require a lot of time and money to outfit as sanctioned campsites during the briefing.
City staff and homeless experts have previously raised concerns about sanctioned encampments, saying they are expensive to maintain, challenging to manage and hard to close, even when intended to to be temporary.
In 2019, staff declined to make recommendations for such sites despite being directed by council to do so, citing 2018 guidance from the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness. "Neither authorized encampments nor parking areas provide housing for people experiencing homelessness," staff wrote in a memo. "Rather, each option detracts from the staff resources assigned to addressing this moral imperative."
But with Prop B being enforced and too few shelter beds and affordable units for the estimate unsheltered homeless population in Austin, the city is facing the same predicament that prompted District 9 Council Member Kathie Tovo to pursue possible sanctioned campsites in the first place: "When individuals in encampments ask where they should go, we need to have places to suggest," she said at a May 6 council meeting.
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Don't lose your mask just yet—the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced it is now recommending masks in areas that are surging as cases rise nationwide and the Delta variant looms.
The CDC announced Tuesday that even fully vaccinated individuals should mask up indoors if their community is experiencing substantial transmission—defined as areas with more than 50 cases per 100,000 people. Travis County is sitting at an average of 94.59 cases per 100,000 over the past seven days, falling into the highest risk category, according to the CDC.
#DeltaVariant surging in U.S. New data show Delta much more contagious than previous versions of #COVID19. Unvaccinated people: get vaccinated & mask until you do. Everyone in areas of substantial/high transmission should wear a mask, even if vaccinated. https://t.co/tt49zOEC8N
— CDC (@CDCgov) July 27, 2021
After two COVID-19 recommendation stage jumps in the last two weeks, from Stage 2 to Stage 4, Austin-area cases are the highest they have been since February. The seven-day average for cases is on an upward trend, reaching 226 on Tuesday.
The CDC is also recommending that all students K-12 wear masks indoors, regardless of vaccination status. A May executive order by Gov. Greg Abbott prohibits schools from requiring masks, regardless of vaccination status. Austin ISD is "strongly" encouraging students to wear masks.
Although vaccinated individuals are still protected against the most severe symptoms of the variant, infections are spreading rapidly and now make up 83% of confirmed cases in the U.S. At least a dozen cases of the delta variant have been confirmed in the Austin area, though there are likely more since testing for it is limited.
CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said that hospital admissions are "almost exclusively" coming from people who are unvaccinated but those who are vaccinated can still catch and spread the virus.
"Unlike the alpha variant that we had back in May, where we didn't believe that if you were vaccinated you could transmit further, this is different now with the Delta variant," Walensky said. "That leads us to believe that the breakthrough infections, rare that they are, have the potential to pool and transmit at the same with the same capacity as an unvaccinated person."
Research suggests those who become infected carry 1,000 times more of the virus than other variants and could stay contagious for longer.The announcement comes on the heels of the Biden administration ramping up cautionary measures in the face of the Delta variant. Just last week, the CDC said it had no plans to change its May guidance of vaccinated not having to wear masks unless there was a significant change in the data. Officials met on Sunday night to review new evidence, according to reports.
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The Moody Center, a $338 million, 530,000-square-foot multipurpose arena at the University of Texas at Austin, celebrated its topping out on Tuesday.
With the final beam placed, the arena's steel-frame structural phase—which involved more than 5.3 million pounds of steel—is complete.
"This past year has been full of unprecedented events, not to mention weather challenges, and yet the women and men working on this project continue to deliver," Moody Center General Manager and Senior Vice President Jeff Nickler said in a press release.
To celebrate the topping out Oak View Group, the development and investment firm behind the Moody Center will affix a tree to the final beam in keeping with the time-honored tradition.
The practice dates back to ancient Scandinavian religious rites, which involved placing a tree atop new buildings to appease tree-dwelling spirits displaced during the construction process, according to the International Association of Bridge, Structural and Ornamental Ironworkers in Washington D.C.
After the steel-frame structure phase, the development will move on to enclosing and finishing the interior of the Moody Center.
The arena is set to open next April and already has some major acts scheduled for its inaugural year, including The Weeknd, Justin Bieber, John Mayer and The Killers. It will replace the 43-year-old Frank C. Erwin Jr. Center and serve as the home of UT's men's and women's basketball games, among other sports and community events.
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