AUSTIN, Texas - Texas takes a huge step forward in its COVID-19 vaccination campaign Monday. All adults in our state are now eligible to get the shot, more than a month before the May 1st benchmark set by President Joe Biden.
State health officials made the decision to open up eligibility in part because they are anticipating a major increase in vaccine supply this week. The Department of State Health Services says Texas will receive more than a million doses over the course of the week—allocating those shots to more than 700 providers across the state.
In addition to adults, 16- and 17-year-olds are also now eligible to get vaccinated, but according to DSHS so far only the Pfizer vaccine is approved for that age group.
Health officials say Texans who are at higher risk for getting seriously ill from COVID, such as older people, will still be given priority. In fact, starting this week, people 80 and older will be able to go to the front of the line to get vaccinated, even without an appointment.
On Friday, Governor Abbott tweeted the state hit a milestone - 10 million shots given out, calling it "a major accomplishment in our state's continued fight against COVID-19." However, as of Monday morning, just under 3.7 million Texans are fully vaccinated. That is about 12 percent of the population, one of the lowest vaccination rates in the country.
Right now, some Central Texas providers are contending with long waitlists which will likely only get longer, including in Austin. On Facebook Live Friday night, Mayor Adler acknowledged the backlog with Austin Public Health, saying, "You can get vaccines in lots of different places around the city, including Austin Public Health, but most of the vaccines in the city are being gotten other places. So, you don't need to just wait for that."
As vaccines continue to roll out, new COVID-19 cases continue to drop in Texas, and on Sunday Gov. Abbott announced the seven-day positivity rate has dropped to a new low of just under five percent.
Last week the state promised a new centralized website where Texans can register through various vaccine providers. That site is now up and running, at getthevaccine.dshs.texas.gov.