All are racing for a vaccine with data showing younger Austinites receiving more shots than those 65+
Richard Kane, 40, received his first COVID-19 vaccine shot last week at a CVS in Temple, a little more than an hour's drive north of Austin.
The Austin Country Club tennis coach is a Type 1 diabetic and eligible for the vaccine under group 1B, which includes people 65 and older, as well as those with a medical condition.
Despite being in a high-risk category, Kane was initially more concerned about making appointments for his father and mother-in-law. When his wife was able to secure appointments for all three of them, he was mostly on board.
"I thought I would feel funny if I was there waiting in a long line, and I'm 40, and there's a bunch of people in their 60s and 70s behind me," he told Austonia.
But Kane's fears were unfounded. Now partially vaccinated, with a second appointment scheduled, Kane feels more secure, especially considering that he returned to work last May—and does not have the option to work remotely. "It definitely makes me feel more comfortable, both for myself and the other people," he said.
Three months into the COVID-19 vaccine rollout, there are some signs of widening access thanks to increased weekly allocations, the FDA's approval of Johnson & Johnson's single-shot candidate and expanded eligibility criteria, which now includes educators and child care staff. Although older residents still report trouble making an appointment, younger Austinites like Kane are increasingly in on the action.
Austin Public Health administered 26,645 doses of the vaccine last week. Of those, more than 65% went to people under 65 years old. This is a new development. Until last week, the majority of APH's doses had been administered to people 60 and older, according to the Austin-Travis County vaccine distribution dashboard.
Austin Public Health has been prioritizing older residents in its vaccine distribution process since they are the most at-risk of severe illness. Department officials have even said that other 1B qualified individuals should consider giving up their place in line.
Securing a spot in line
So how are young people securing a dose? There are plenty of younger Texans who are eligible for the vaccine under priority group 1B. In addition to healthcare workers, long-term care employees, and education and child care personnel, there are an estimated 311,477 Travis County residents aged 16 to 64 who have a medical condition and therefore qualify, according to the Texas Department of State Health Services. This is roughly a quarter of the county population.
Dana, who asked to use a pseudonym for privacy reasons, lives in San Marcos and received her second vaccine dose in late February from Hays County. The 27-year-old was eligible under group 1B because of pandemic weight gain; obesity is one of many health conditions that increases risk of severe COVID illness, according to DSHS.
"I did have my reservations," she said, adding that she worried people might think of weight gain as a personal choice rather than legitimate eligibility criteria. "There's always someone less healthy than you."
But ultimately she opted to make an appointment, citing well-documented links between obesity and more severe COVID outcomes. "The more people who get jabs the better," she said.
Another way to secure the vaccine is to jump the line, as reported by the Texas Tribune. Because state health guidelines do not allow vaccine providers to require recipients to provide proof of a medical condition, some residents have successfully made an appointment citing membership of group 1B, despite not meeting the current eligibility criteria.
Vaccines for volunteers
Amanda Sheppard, 41, is a service coordinator for Family Eldercare, a local nonprofit that serves seniors and adults with disabilities. Because of her job, she has qualified for a vaccine since very early on in the rollout. "I had actually tried to get an appointment on the Austin Public Health website, but I wasn't able to get one," she said.
When APH hosted a vaccine clinic at the public housing community where she works on Tuesday, Sheppard volunteered—and received her first dose. "I just felt like I needed to get the vaccine because I'm going to continue to work with this population," she said.
Amanda Sheppard received her first vaccine dose on Tuesday after volunteering at a distribution event. (Amanda Sheppard)
As vaccine supply increases, so too do the number of large-scale vaccine distribution events. Central TX VACCS, a joint effort by the city of Austin and Travis County, notes on its website that volunteering at a vaccine distribution site "does NOT mean you'll receive a vaccine." But for some younger Austinites this is one way to get a vaccine before it is rolled out to the general public.
Volunteer shift at a covid vaccine center done. The 25K steps I racked up running filled syringes to docs/nurses was VERY worth it. I'm healthy but being a single mom made me nervous to get sick. An amazing, emotional day y'all. pic.twitter.com/me1n1Nr80i
— Ande Wall (@AndeWall) March 6, 2021
Woke up at 6:30, drove an hour to volunteer with helping people get vaccinated, stood for 8 hours straight on hot tarmac, and got so sunburnt I have mask tan lines.
BUT I GOT MY FIRST ROUND OF THE VACCINE 🎉🎉🎉 pic.twitter.com/ryGOilyomQ
— tyler (@spacedtyler) March 5, 2021
Those still waiting may find the wait shorter than anticipated. State officials are expected to release details on the 1C priority group, which will likely include essential workers, this month. APH Assistant Director Cassandra DeLeon urged members of the general public to start preparing a vaccine plan during a press conference on Friday.
"As we look ahead into next week, we are anticipating having additional vaccine," she said. "And so we encourage everyone to continue to work toward getting access to a vaccine and ... thinking through and talking with your healthcare provider about which vaccine you'd like to receive—¸and, when it becomes your turn to get a vaccine, continue to try to get one."
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According to a WalletHub survey of nearly 5,000 Black Friday deals from 21 of the biggest U.S. retailers, Macy's has the best overall savings with an average 58.5% discount.
Here's how other stores fared based on shopping category:
- For clothes & apparel discounts: JCPenney has the best deals with an average 58.8% discount.
- For jewelry deals: Belk offers an 80% discount, followed by Kohl's at 75%.
- For furniture deals: Office Depot and OfficeMax are your best bet with a 49% discount.
- For consumer electronics, toys, and computers and phones: Macy's takes the cake.
In this season of gifts, giving, and gratitude, Tito's is making it easy to shop for your friends and loved ones while helping our community.
The beloved Austin company's Love, Tito's retail space, downtown at 215 Lavaca Street, is fully stocked with great gear. 100% of net proceeds of whatever you purchase—a new collar for your four-legged friend, a Tito's tee, some branded barware—go to the nonprofits they support. From the environment to animal rescue, you can choose your cause while choosing a new copper cocktail kit… or old school cap… or golf polo.
The store is stocked with stuff that the online experience just can't offer: never-before-seen swag, doggy photo booths (to say it's a dog-friendly space is an understatement), a record player to spin some tunes, and a bar finder listing local spots serving mean Tito's cocktails. Locals and out-of-town visitors alike can enjoy wonderful distractions while kicking back in an environment designed to cater to Tito's fans.
While you can't enjoy a cocktail there due to Texas liquor laws, the store offers unique experiences for any and all fans of the brand, and gives folks a chance to find what resonates with them while taking home a piece of the Tito's story.
*At our Love, Tito's store in Austin, net proceeds constitute an average margin of at least 25% of the retail price of a product, excluding the cost of tax on the purchase. We are not deducting cost of our people, the store rent or other operating costs.
The holiday season is upon us, so get ready to celebrate with carols, snacks and light shows galore. Austin is full of holiday festivities spanning throughout all of December so get out and enjoy the cool weather while it lasts.
Don't miss these nine holiday-themed light shows.
Austin's most famous annual light show and a Readers Choice of USA Today's 10 Best Public Displays of Holiday Lights, the Trail of Lights will be drive-thru again this year Nov. 27-Dec. 31. For 57 years in a row, the Trail of Lights has lit up Zilker Park with games, food, local vendors and more than two million lights gleaming for the holidays. The event, as always, is free to the public and you can reserve slots here. The Zilker Tree is already up, so you can already see it if the holiday cheer is too much to bear.
Coming back for the second year in a row, Peppermint Parkway will transport you to COTALAND, where six million lights gleam and Christmas is just a one-mile drive away. The hybrid event will have you drive through the display of lights, dancing elves and unique little villages before you hit the walking plaza, where you can grab a bite to eat and meet Santa. Tickets range from $40-$95, some including a lap around the COTA track, running from Nov. 26-Dec. 26.
Dreamland Dripping Springs has been transformed into a winter wonderland—running throughout the month of December, the venue's first-ever holiday display is taking over with activities for the whole family. Plus, running from Nov. 20-Jan. 4, a pop-up ice skating rink will really bring the holiday cheer for $10 or $5 Monday specials. The lights display will feature half a million lights and warm, festive sips from the taproom.
With events galore for the holiday season, winter is really when the Hill Country Galleria thrives. Starting with its Light Up The Plaza event on Saturday from 6-8 p.m., where visitors can see Santa, gaze at the official lighting of the holiday tree and hear some live tunes from rock band American Authors. The Galleria will also hold a holiday market every Thursday, Friday and Saturday leading up to Christmas Eve and periodic photos with Santa at Buenos Aires Cafe.
Deck the Halls at the Driskill Hotel
(Courtesy of the Driskill Hotel)
This holiday season, the Driskill will deck out every nook and cranny of the historic hotel from the grand staircase to the 16-foot Christmas tree in the lobby to be lit on a Dec. 1 ceremony that will be open to the public. Touches of Driskill festivities can also be seen at Dell Children's Hospital with a gingerbread village for its annual "Cookies for Caring" event.
Kicking off the lighting of the tree on Saturday, Dec. 4, Austinites will gather on the steps of the Texas Capitol at 6 p.m. to sing the 45-foot tree to life. Afterward, local band Los Coast will close out the night with a free concert. The fun doesn't stop there though as the Downtown Austin Alliance will host the Downtown Holiday Stroll, with "holiday passports" and stamps to collect for local restaurants and stores, and a Frida Friday Holiday Market at Republic Square.
Combining festive holiday lights and the beautiful native plants of Central Texas, Luminations at the Wildflower Center is back with thousands of lights, luminarias and a lit-up look at Fortlandia. This year will also feature an interactive light maze called "silvana" by Ben Busche of architecture firm Brut Deluxe, which will be the maze's first appearance in North America. The event will run Thursdays-Sundays from Dec. 2-Jan. 30 for $10-$25 per person.
Reserved tables are back for Mozart's Coffee Roasters annual Christmas Lights Show for $20 four-person tables and $30 six-person tables—so get your tickets early because these tables are likely to sell out. The light show will also feature a festival-style Bavarian marketplace for those last-minute gifts. If you're too late to reserve a table, don't worry, there will be standing room available for free so come one, come all, and come early for parking.
From Dec. 2-4, Old Settlers Park will light up with holiday displays, family activities, festive refreshments and live music. Watch the balloons hover above the lake as you sip on a hot chocolate or give to those in need, with stands for Round Rock Operation Blue Santa, which is taking toys for kids in need, the Play For All Foundation, which is accepting cash donations for disabled children, and the People & Parks Foundation, accepting cash donations for green space in the community. Admission to the event is free, along with most of the activities in the park.
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