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Abbott says COVID vaccine to be available to other groups by end of March

This story has been edited to correct when the State health department expects vaccines to be available to the general public.

Prioritizing of the COVID-19 vaccine to 1A and 1B groups could be lifted as soon as March, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said in a press conference on Thursday.


"With the amount of the vaccines that we are getting, I would anticipate it being very soon," Abbott said.

It is not clear who will be eligible next for the vaccine at this time. The State health department estimates that vaccines will be available to the general public this spring.

The announcement comes as the state prepares for the largest vaccine shipment yet. President Joe Biden has reportedly told Abbott that Texas is expected to receive "well over a million" vaccine doses with even more to come in the next several days.

Abbott and Biden are set to discuss the winter storm disaster in Houston on Friday, but Abbott said that the two will also visit a vaccine "supersite" to demonstrate that Texas can handle thousands more vaccines.

"The number of vaccines being made available to the state of Texas is increasingly dramatically," Abbott said. "We will also be talking about vaccines as well as the additional amount of vaccines that will be coming to the state of Texas, showing that we will be able to accelerate vaccinations in Texas."

As of Thursday, more than 40% of senior citizens in Texas are reported to have at least one vaccine dose. Abbott said the state expects to have the number climb to 50% in one week in anticipation of the state's biggest vaccine delivery yet and the anticipated Friday approval of the single-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine by the Food and Drug Administration.

Next week, the state will speed up efforts by beginning a "Save our Seniors" program across Texas. Abbott said that 1,100 National Guard members will be deployed across the state to bring vaccines to homebound seniors.

"Some of our seniors do have the ability to go to our vaccine hubs," Abbott said. "However there are other seniors who don't have the physical ability to travel to one of these hubs because they're homebound. Our mission is simple, and that is to get our seniors vaccinated as quickly as possible."

According to Abbott, the state has allocated 8,000 doses to the Save Our Seniors program. However, with the single-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine pending approval on Friday, Abbott said they could have up to four times their original number brought to senior residents.

Abbott said that the state hopes to have all willing seniors vaccinated and treat other demographic groups by the end of March.

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