1 year since COVID-19 vaccines became available in Austin

On Dec. 15, 2020, some of the first COVID-19 vaccines were put in the arms of Austinites.

UT Austin was one of the first sites in Texas to receive a shipment of vaccines that were then distributed at Dell Medical School to local healthcare workers.

Jason McLellan, professor of molecular biosciences at UT Austin, played a major role in making that happen. All of the COVID-19 vaccines being used in the U.S. use spike protein vaccine antigens based on McLellan's research.

"It’s something I got into the sciences for, to try and make some impact on human health," said McLellan, commenting on the past year. "I think overall it’s been pretty good, we’ve seen good uptake in certain regions of the country and state."

A lot has changed since a year ago. 

At Austin ISD, they began efforts to vaccinate kids 5 to 11 in November - as soon as they became eligible. "We’ve done over 3,000 vaccines already since they’ve been approved," said AISD director of health services Alana Bejarano.

As of Wednesday, 69% of Travis County residents ages 5 and up have been fully vaccinated. Hays and Williamson counties have hit the 99.9% mark for residents 65 and up with at least one dose.

Travis County leaders like Precinct 4 Constable George Morales have played a big part in the distribution, especially in areas east of I-35, where Morales’ precinct is located. 

"We’re taking shots where people are at, where people live," said Morales. "They may not have access to transportation or technology to get online and make an appointment, so we come where you’re at."

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