100% Austin news, info, and entertainment, straight to your inbox at 6 a.m. every morning.
In five minutes, you're fully informed and ready to start another great day in our city.
When Holly, 33, received her first COVID-19 vaccine dose on Jan. 23, she felt conflicted. Although she was eligible because of her job at a mental health clinic and is diagnosed with an autoimmune disorder that puts her at higher risk for blood clots, she told Austonia, "I still had some guilt." She added that she was able to make an appointment before either her parents or her mother-in-law, who is unwell. "There was a gap in the overall system."
Holly, who asked to use a pseudonym, also kept her immunization status mostly private. She is involved in a holistic wellness community, where many members are anti-vaccine. She was, too, until recently, when she decided that any risks of getting vaccinated were outweighed by the risks of contracting a severe case of COVID. "I felt like there was some judgment around if I got the vaccine," she said. "And I just haven't wanted to open myself up to having to justify myself."
So-called vaccine guilt is a common experience among recipients given the limited availability of doses across Texas and the nation. It may become even more so on Monday, when the state will expand vaccine eligibility to all residents 16 and older. Amid this change, vaccine providers will still be asked to prioritize the elderly, who are especially high-risk and may have difficulty navigating the online registration process.
The Texas Department of State Health Services expects to receive an increased number of vaccine doses next week, which it cited as one reason for expanding eligibility. But supply remains limited. Midway through week 15 of the rollout, 292,161 Travis County residents are partially vaccinated and 121,769 are fully vaccinated, representing 28% and nearly 12% of the estimated population 16 and older, respectively, according to DSHS. This leaves around 40% of the currently eligible groups, not including those in the recently added 1C group, unvaccinated.
i got my first covid vaccine today and i almost cried from relief and guilt.💌 sending love to anyone that hasn't been able to get theirs yet. especially to anyone who is also struggling with the fact that our incarcerated and uninsured relatives won't have access to this vaccine
— emi aguilar #𝔟𝔩𝔪 #𝔩𝔞𝔫𝔡𝔟𝔞𝔠𝔨 (@EagleEmii) March 6, 2021
It may also lead some Austinites who will become eligible next week to question whether they should seek out an appointment. "I can see why people feel guilty because I feel guilty," said Christine Mitchell, executive director of the Center for Bioethics at Harvard Medical School. She received a vaccine early in the rollout because of her job, which is in a healthcare field but does not involve direct contact with COVID patients. "And many of us who are vaccinated … feel guilty because it has not been handled well in getting (doses) to grocery workers, for example."
Solidarity with fellow Texan front-line workers in our union family who have once again been excluded by the state from COVID-19 vaccine eligibility.
Without leadership from @POTUS, K-12 school employees would be in the same boat. #1u #UnionStrong https://t.co/iglwilNMEh
— Texas AFT (@TexasAFT) March 20, 2021
The rollout, which Mitchell called "intensely problematic," has been logistically challenging for many reasons: the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines require ultra-cold storage, which limits the number of providers that have the necessary equipment to preserve them; mass distribution events serve more people but may exclude those without a car; online registration systems exacerbate the digital divide; mobile events in rural communities risk wasted doses if not enough people opt in.
It's these issues that have led some to feel guilty about accessing a vaccine that they know remains inaccessible to people at higher risk than themselves. "In an ideal world, what you would like is for everyone ... to be sort of rank-ordered in terms of their risk of dying from COVID and get the vaccine to the people at the top of the list first," said Dr. Matthew Wynia, director of the Center for Bioethics and Humanities at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center.
Instead, the rollout has relied on categorization, which means that there is often a spectrum of risk within each group. Wynia urges people who are eligible for the vaccine to seek out an appointment. Not doing so could give the false impression of less demand for doses or higher rates of vaccine hesitancy than actually exist. "Don't neglect to get the vaccine when it's your turn even if you don't think it should be your turn yet," he said.
People who are bothered by this process can act in ways other than forgoing a vaccine. Wynia suggested supporting efforts to hold vaccine clinics in underserved communities, participating in phone-based outreach to people without internet service and volunteering as a vaccine angel.
Volunteered at a vaccine site today. The reward - I got my first shot today!!!
Side note - I walked 10 miles today and my legs are jello!#igotmyshot #soveryhappy #Thankful
— Gerie (@gladams29) March 24, 2021
Although some Austinites may feel that it is too soon to open up vaccine eligibility to the general public, there are benefits to doing so. For one, it will eliminate the guessing game of whether people are eligible or gaming the system. "If you really are jumping the queue and you're ineligible … now you are creating an unfairness," he said.
But both Wynia and Mitchell believe that such cheating is uncommon. "The whole fact that we're having this conversation about vaccine guilt is an indication that a lot of people are so honest about this that they're worried they're taking advantage of a system when they're not even really taking advantage of anything but playing by the rules," Wynia said.
More on what experts are saying:
- Volunteers create "scraper" bots to find vaccines fast - austonia ›
- A 'handful' of ineligible people got the COVID vaccine in Austin ... ›
- Austin vaccine recipients feel relief, guilt amid slow rollout - austonia ›
- Why some Austinites are opting out of the COVID-19 vaccine - austonia ›
Something about Q2 Stadium brings the best out of goalkeepers.
Much like Austin FC's Brad Stuver has done throughout the season, U.S. men's national team keeper Matt Turner kept his team alive in a 1-0 victory over Qatar. The match proved to be a battle of stamina as USMNT's Gyasi Zardes netted a last-minute goal to push Team USA to the CONCACAF Gold Cup final.
Turner, who has conceded just one goal throughout the tournament, continually tipped off shots by an offensively-minded Qatar and put up three saves. Turner now has 18 saves in the Cup.
🧤🧤 Matt Turner was on 🔥 in goal for the #USMNT!
This magnificent save was the Save Of The Game presented by @Allstate #ThisIsOurs #GoldCup21 🏆 pic.twitter.com/MzUScTLNJU
— Gold Cup (@GoldCup) July 30, 2021
The USMNT stumbled through the first half, falling to a 10-shot deficit in the first 45 minutes. Qatar, which gained quick acclaim as the 2019 Asian Cup winners, has not gone scoreless throughout the tournament and has tallied the most goals in the Gold Cup so far.
Qatar saw their biggest shot to topple the U.S. team in the 61st minute after they were awarded a penalty kick. Turner never had to make a save, however, as Hassan Al Haydos missed the crucial shot.
Team USA regrouped and took the reins of the second half, but it was two substitutions by USMNT Head Coach Gregg Berhalter that advanced the team to the continental final.
The two second-half subs, Gyasi Zardes and Nicholas Gioacchini, proved to be the perfect mix for Team USA. As the final whistle loomed, Gioacchini set Zardes up for the first goal of the game in the 86th minute of play.
⚽ The finish ✅
🎥 The camera ✅
🔥 The atmosphere ✅
A perfect goal 🇺🇸🙌#GoldCup21 🏆 #ThisIsOurs pic.twitter.com/KGcpz8aZOR
— Gold Cup (@GoldCup) July 30, 2021
But Zardes wouldn't take credit for the game-changing goal.
"It's not just me, it's a whole team effort," Zardes told FS1. "It was a tight game, they're a great team, but our starters did a phenomenal job at wearing them out... and trying to create opportunities to where when the subs came in, we were able to make a difference."
An outmatched Qatar wasn't able to gain ground as the final tally went 1-0 to the U.S. in Q2 Stadium.
While some were concerned at stadium turnout before the match began, the stadium slowly swelled to near capacity as usual in Austin. Berhalter, whose son Sebastian Berhalter is a midfielder at Austin FC, has previously shown admiration for the MLS' newest stadium.
The USMNT is in Austin for the first time tonight.
After watching his son Sebastian play in the Austin FC home opener, HC Gregg Berhalter is hoping for a similar atmosphere at Q2.
"It's one of the top atmospheres in Major League Soccer." | @KVUE pic.twitter.com/Il4xJ76jvZ
— Jake García (@Jake_M_Garcia) July 29, 2021
This was the second national team match held in Austin in under a month after the women's national team christened the pitch in June.
Next up, Team USA will play the winners of the Mexico vs. Canada semifinal, which takes place at 9 p.m. Thursday, in the Gold Cup final. The final round of the continent's biggest tournament will take place at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday in Las Vegas.
- Here's all the local eats Austin FC is bringing to Q2 Stadium - austonia ›
- Guide to Austin FC home game at Q2 Stadium this Saturday - austonia ›
- Q2 Stadium under Stage 4: could COVID hinder the 'biggest party ... ›
- What's happened at the Gold Cup so far - austonia ›
- Q2 Stadium to host international teams in the Concacaf Gold Cup ... ›
- Q2 Stadium to host international teams in the Concacaf Gold Cup ... ›
- US vs. MEX? A how-to guide on the CONCACAF Gold Cup in Austin ... ›
- Guide to the Gold Cup CONCACAF semifinal match in Austin ... ›
- 1 1/12 oz sweet pepper-infused Tito's Handmade Vodka
- 3 oz soda water
- 1 oz grapefruit juice
- 1/2 oz lime juice
- 1/4 oz simple syrup
The Biden administration is asking cities and states to use pandemic relief funds to pay residents $100 to get vaccinated. Meanwhile, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott reaffirmed prohibitions on pandemic protocols in a new executive order issued on Thursday.
The order emphasizes that "the path forward relies on personal responsibility rather than government mandates," according to a press release. It outlaws government entities from requiring employees to be vaccinated or individuals to provide proof of vaccination and upholds previous orders restricting government entities' ability to impose pandemic protocols.
Local public health and elected officials have asked all Austinites to wear masks indoors, regardless of vaccination status, and unvaccinated individuals to avoid nonessential trips last week given the rising number of local confirmed cases and related hospitalizations in recent weeks. But it is not enforceable under Abbott's order.
The seven-day moving average of new hospital admissions in the five-county Austin metro has more than quintupled since the beginning of July and is now 47.4. The threshold for Stage 5 is 50, according to Austin Public Health's risk-based guidelines.
Despite these trends, Abbott stands firm in his commitment to avoid new statewide mandates and to prohibit local government entities from issuing any of their own.
"Texans have mastered the safe practices that help to prevent and avoid the spread of COVID-19," he said in a statement. "They have the individual right and responsibility to decide for themselves and their children whether they will wear masks, open their businesses and engage in leisure activities."
Public health officials have attributed the current spike to the more contagious Delta variant and unmitigated spread among unvaccinated individuals. Abbott encouraged Texans to get vaccinated if they haven't already but affirmed that it would never be required by the state in his statement.
An increasing number of Austin-area employers—including Ascension Seton, Baylor Scott & White Health, Facebook and the Department of Veterans Affairs—have announced new vaccine requirements in recent days. Austin Mayor Steve Adler asked the city manager to enact a similar requirement on Wednesday, but the city is unable to do so due to an executive order issued by Abbott in April.
- Delta variant, unvaccinated fuel rise of Austin COVID cases - austonia ›
- Gov. Greg Abbott said he won't reinstate mask mandates - austonia ›
- Texas Dems to Abbott: Allow masks, virtual learning at school ... ›