AUSTIN, Texas - Starting today, April 12, anyone 18 years of age and older can book an appointment through Austin Public Health.
This move comes two weeks after Texas health officials said anyone 16 and older could get their shot, but, as they continued to deal with backlogs and limited supply, Austin kept their eligibility at those 40 and older, in addition to higher risk groups.
APH continues to receive only around 12,000 doses a week, but Mayor Steve Adler says Travis County is now beating the statewide averages when it comes to vaccination rates. For example, more than two-thirds of people 65 and older have gotten at least one dose.
Dr. Mark Escott says now is the right time to open things up to all adults, particularly amid concerns the pandemic is growing again in Austin and Travis County. New data from the University of Texas Modeling Consortium shows hospitalization rates plateauing. APH officials say that shows why getting vaccinated is crucial, especially for folks whose work puts them at higher risk of exposure.
"It's important for us, now that transmission is low, or has stabilized, for us to ensure that younger people, ensure that folks who are frontline workers, our restaurant and bar workers, our construction workers, our public facing workers, who have to go back to work now, to ensure that they have adequate access because those individuals are the ones who are at highest risk for transmitting disease and at highest risk for being exposed because of the nature of their work," said Escott.
Anyone 18 years of age and older can now book an appointment through Austin Public Health. (Michael Ciaglo / Getty Images)
Even with the expanded eligibility, APH officials say the focus should still be on making sure people in higher-risk groups get the vaccine if they haven’t yet. Escott credits vaccinations for lower rates of death from COVID, and shorter stays for those who are hospitalized.
If you are 18 or older and you would like to pre-register for the vaccine through Austin Public Health, click here.