AUSTIN, Texas - In as little as two weeks 13,600 doses of Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine could be administered throughout the Austin metropolitan area. This is contingent on the vaccine receiving FDA Emergency Use Authorization.
Austin-Travis County Emergency Medical Services Association President Selena Xie tells FOX 7 Austin she believes ATCEMS’ approximately 600 medics will be vaccinated in the first wave.
“We are the ones that are going to patients and a lot of times they are asymptomatic, they haven't had a COVID test,” said Xie.
The CDC recommends that all healthcare providers doing direct patient care be in the first wave of vaccinations. “That includes EMS, hospital workers as well as in nursing homes, long term rehab facilities,” Xie explained.
Austin Public Health officials say they will use the CDC and Governor Greg Abbott’s guidance. Sunday, the governor's guidance remained a bit vaguer than the CDC’s. Xie, who has a colleague on the Emergency Vaccine Allocation Panel, or EVAP, says that will likely change soon.
“The state is also updating the governor's vaccine committee [Monday] and then it will be finalized so we do expect that EMS will get it,” she said.
With limited doses expected to hit the Austin metro area during the first wave of vaccinations, many could be disappointed. Sunday, it appeared Austin fire and police would not be vaccinated immediately.
Austin Police Association President Ken Casaday told FOX 7 Austin the department had 21 active COVID-19 cases Sunday. He said that is the greatest number of cases they have had since the pandemic began. To put that in perspective, the department has had around 100 cases total.
“The department is very concerned about the rate of infection we’re having right now,” he said.
Meanwhile, the League of United Latin American Citizens is pushing for farming, agricultural, and meatpacking workers to be included in this first wave of vaccinations.
Gov. Abbott has repeatedly identified nursing homes, prisons and jails, and meatpacking plants as the state's most significant COVID-19 hotspots.
“[Workers] should be protected from this virus and be able to provide a safe service,” said Gabriel Nila with LULAC, who also pointed to the impact the virus has had on the supply chain.