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(Austin Regional Clinic)

After receiving only 1,300 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine during the first month of allocation, Austin Public Health is expecting a much larger shipment—12,000 doses—from the state next week.


"While this pilot allocation is the largest given to us to date, it is important to note that it is still not nearly enough to cover everyone who will want the vaccine in our community," APH Director Stephanie Hayden said in a statement Friday. "There is an estimated 200,000 residents without traditional health insurance over the age of 16 that may need to be vaccinated by a safety net provider, like Austin Public Health."

APH will administer the vaccine to individuals who meet the state's criteria for groups 1A and 1B, which include frontline healthcare workers, long-term care facility residents, first responders, people 65 years of age and older and those with a chronic medical condition.

The department has also identified vaccine clinic locations in the hardest hit communities. To protect patient privacy, the location details will only be available with scheduled appointments.

Earlier this week, Hayden said APH would need at least 10,000 doses to warrant the launch of a vaccine registration system for Austin residents in search of a shot. With the news of the state's latest allocation, APH will launch such a system "in the days ahead."

The Texas Department of State Health Services announced Thursday that it will direct its upcoming weekly allocation of around 200,000 COVID vaccine doses to large providers that can administer shots on a large scale to vulnerable populations.

Next week will be the last week that the state is required to reserve doses of its vaccine allocation from the federal government to vaccinate residents and staff of long-term care facilities, which DSHS said will free up doses in the future.

Texas' vaccine rollout, which began in mid-December, has been bumpy. The state has issued mixed messages, some providers have administered vaccines to individuals outside of the priority groups and many eligible residents have found themselves on waitlists numbers into the thousands.

Meanwhile, the COVID caseload continues to surge in Austin, and hospitals are nearing their capacity limits.

"Just because more vaccine is being delivered each week does not mean that individuals should slow preventative measures," Austin-Travis County Interim Health Authority Dr. Mark Escott said in a statement Friday. "It would be especially tragic to have more deaths and hospitalizations when we are so close to getting our vulnerable populations vaccinated."

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