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The Pfizer vaccine is officially coming to Texas—and soon—as part of a pilot delivery program by the pharmaceutical company.
Texas will receive the vaccine alongside three other states—New Mexico, Rhode Island and Tennessee—all chosen for their size, population diversity, immunization structure and need to reach people in both urban and rural communities, reports Reuters.
The vaccine has demonstrated 90% efficacy in early trials and must be kept and shipped in freezing conditions, -94° Fahrenheit, something the company seeks to address that could cause challenges in distribution and storage.
However, the four states picked for the trial will not receive doses before the rest of the states and will not receive preferential treatment.
"We are hopeful that results from this vaccine delivery pilot will serve as the model for other U.S. states and international governments, as they prepare to implement effective COVID-19 vaccine programs," Pfizer said in a statement on Monday.
In a $1.95 billion deal with the U.S. government, Pfizer will supply 100 million doses of the vaccine to the country with the option to request an additional 500 million doses.
Moderna also recently revealed its vaccine is 94.5% effective and is testing over 400 Austinites as part of its trial. Moderna is expected to put in the emergency use FDA application within the next few weeks.
Both vaccines are well over the 50% efficacy requirement instituted by the U.S. government.
As of right now, it is still unknown whether or not it is possible to still spread the virus even after being vaccinated. It is also unknown whether or not patients will require a booster shot.
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Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced Monday that Texas will opt out of further federal unemployment benefits related to the pandemic effective June 26, citing the number of current job openings and concern about potentially fraudulent unemployment claims. The benefits include a $300 weekly supplement.
"The Texas economy is booming and employers are hiring communities across the state," Abbott said in a statement. "According to the Texas Workforce Commission, the number of job openings in Texas is almost identical to the number of Texans who are receiving unemployment jobs."
TWC listed 837,273 job openings as of Monday afternoon compared to 226,849 unemployment insurance claims filed statewide between March 31 and May 1. An estimated 1 million Texans were unemployed as of March, according to latest estimates released by the state agency.
Some local business owners, including Doc's Backyard Grill owner Charles Milligan, suspect unemployment benefits are deterring Austinites from returning to work. But others agree with economists who say multiple factors are at play, including health concerns and child care availability.
We're seeing lots of posts about how nobody wants to work right now. Just wanted to share our experience.
We received over 60 resumes for a taproom bartender position we posted last week. Every applicant we've set up an interview with has shown up.
People want 𝘨𝘰𝘰𝘥 work.
— Austin Beerworks (@AustinBeerworks) May 11, 2021
Abbott also cited fraudulent unemployment claims. Between March 2020 and April 2021, TWC received 4.48 million unemployment benefit applications, 611,000 or around 14% of which were tagged as suspicious. Most of those tagged were blocked before any benefits were paid out, according to an April 29 press release.
Federal law requires the effective date of such benefits change to be at least 30 days after the U.S. Department of Labor is notified.
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