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(Office of the Texas Governor)

As new COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations continue to rise across the state, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott received the first dose of the COVID vaccine on Tuesday at Ascension Seton Medical Center in Austin.

"I want to show my fellow Texans that it's safe and easy to get a vaccine," he said before getting his shot. "And also remembering that I will never ask my fellow Texans to do something I wouldn't do myself."


Abbott cited recent polls that found fewer than half of Texans plan to receive the COVID vaccine and recent advice from U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Robert Redfield, who asked elected officials to get vaccinated on camera to encourage their constituents to follow suit, for his decision to be vaccinated publicly.

After receiving his shot, Abbott reported he "didn't feel a thing."

The governor was joined by Texas Department of State Health Services Commissioner Dr. John Hellerstedt.

"This will eventually be what puts the pandemic behind us," he said of the COVID vaccines in use.

The state of Texas distributed 224,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine last week and is on track to distribute an additional 620,400 doses—mostly from Moderna—this week. Both vaccines require two doses, administered about three weeks apart.

Abbott said Texas will distribute more than one million vaccines by the end of the month, focusing on priority populations such as frontline healthcare workers, EMS first responders and nursing home residents. He previously said the state would administer 1.4 million doses by the new year.

"In January and February, the number of vaccines will just continue to increase," he said. "There will come a time when there will be availability for everyone to have a vaccine."

Now that Abbott has received the first dose himself, he joins other local and state officials who have opted to receive the COVID vaccine.

Dr. Amy Young, chief clinical officer for UT Health Austin and vice dean of professional practice at Dell Medical School, was one of the first 100 people to be vaccinated in Austin last Tuesday. Dr. Clay Johnston, dean of the medical school, tweeted a photo of his colleague receiving her shot, adding: "I haven't felt so much joy since before the pandemic."

Dr. Peter Hotez, dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at the Baylor College of Medicine and co-director of the Texas Children's Hospital Center for Vaccine Development, received his vaccine in Houston on the same day.

Dr. Diana Fite, president of the Texas Medical Association and an emergency room physician in Houston, got vaccinated on Wednesday.

Austin-Travis County Interim Health Authority Dr. Mark Escott received the first dose of the COVID vaccine on Saturday as part of the distribution event for first responders. He also serves as the medical director of the Austin-Travis County EMS system.

Dr. Guadalupe Zamora, who serves on the Central Health board of managers, received his vaccine on Sunday.

Former Texas Governor and U.S. President George W. Bush has also volunteered to receive the vaccine on camera, once they have been administered to priority populations.

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