Austonia daily newsletter—direct to your inbox 6 a.m.
×
becomeMemberIcon

become a member

(Bob Daemmrich)

Travis County is the ninth most at-risk county in the nation for severe vaccine deficits and the second most at-risk in the state, according to a study by data science company Cogitativo.


The report, titled No Relief in Sight: The Growing Crisis of Vaccine Shortages in U.S. Counties, was conducted to see if vaccine allocation is being done most effectively with the CDC's current methods. Cogitativo used a simulation of vaccine allocation in the 10 most populous states, assuming there was a supply of 100 million doses, and compared allocation strategies by counties recommended by the CDC to their own strategy.

The CDC's Advisory on Immunization Practices recommends using priority populations that are predetermined (such as those who meet 1A and 1B qualifications in Travis County) and the Social Vulnerability Index to figure out who gets vaccinated first. Cogitativo, however, simulated a model using county clinical data, social determinants of health and peer-reviewed COVID-19 medical research.

The difference between the two is outstanding.

In the controlled setting of the simulation, the CDC's methods caused a shortage of up to 4.9 million doses nationally. Almost 640,000 lives would be saved using the Cogitativo methods, according to the simulation, and another 4.4 million hospitalizations could be prevented.

When the CDC method is used, 34% of counties, including Travis County, see a vaccine shortage. Travis County would have administered 106,678 fewer doses with the CDC's approach. Harris County leads Texas for most deficit doses.

Because Cogitativo uses clinical data to determine priority groups, the data company's CEO Gary Velasquez said in a statement that the shortage impacts vulnerable populations not getting the vaccine access they need.

"The data is clear: Without a more precise approach to allocating the vaccine, many of the most vulnerable—often in communities of color and rural areas—will be overlooked," Velasquez said. "To meet the most complex public health challenge of our time, states must use the most powerful, precise tools available so that every resident, whether they live in a city or in a rural community, has equal access to the vaccine."

To former Chief Medical Officer of Blue Shield of California Dr. Meredith Matthews, the study can be used to make sure those in disadvantaged locations never have to go without the vaccine.

"Access to the COVID-19 vaccine should not depend on where you live," Matthews said. "Using science and data can help states ensure that everyone has access, and that no community is left behind."

Austin officials concerned about inequities in distribution have advocated for changes to the local vaccine rollout, including pop-up distribution events at community centers, such as fire stations and schools, for the Black and Hispanic population most hit by the virus. Additionally, APH Director Stephanie Hayden-Howard has previously said that she has concerns that the city's Black and Hispanic populations were being underserved when compared to their community size.

"We remain deeply concerned that vaccine distribution is not reaching individuals who identify as Hispanic or African American, especially given the pandemic's disproportionate impact to these communities," Hayden-Howard said. "We must expand current efforts to provide vaccines to more members of our Hispanic and African American communities, especially in areas where disease transmission is high."

According to Austin Public Health's vaccine distribution dashboard, 31.7% who've received a dose were 60 or older; 7.6% of those vaccinated were Black, 18.1% were Hispanic of any race, 5.1% were Asian and 68.2% were White.

Popular

The birth certificate requirement under HB 25 goes further than rules from University Interscholastic League, which governs public school sports in Texas. (Getty Images/The Texas Tribune)

A bill that would restrict transgender student athletes from playing on school sports teams that align with their gender identity is heading to Gov. Greg Abbott's desk after the Texas House accepted Senate amendments to the legislation in a 76-61 vote Sunday afternoon.

Keep Reading Show less

Formula 1's United States Grand Prix will take place in Austin from Friday, October 29-Sunday, October 31 in Austin.

Just weeks after music fest Austin City Limits, Austin will be host to another global event as the Circuit of the Americas hosts Formula 1's United States Grand Prix race for the first time since the onset of the pandemic.

Keep Reading Show less

Austin FC is taking on Minnesota at home after a two-week hiatus. (Austin FC/Twitter)

With two weeks of rest, a dream team lineup and nearly 20 scoring attempts in the match, Austin FC could have come away with a three-match home win streak against Minnesota United on Saturday.

Keep Reading Show less