SAN MARCOS, Texas - Hays County is preparing to soon distribute COVID-19 vaccines but still says that residents will be directed to personal medical providers or vaccine hubs in Travis or Bexar counties for now.
According to the Hays County Local Health Department Director Tammy Crumley, residents currently have two options to get the vaccine: speaking with their personal medical providers and determine if they can get a vaccine at a company in Hays County that already has the vaccine or pre-register to get a vaccine through the state’s new hub system.
The HCLHD director says the department has been approved by the Texas Department of State Health Service (DSHS) to receive the COVID-19 vaccine and that she expects a small allotment of doses to be sent to Hays County in the very near future, which will be used to vaccinate individuals per state health department guidelines.
"We are coordinating with Austin Public Health in Travis County, which is a hub, to in order to dispense the vaccine to Hays County residents in the Phase 1B category," she said. "Bexar County is also a hub."
According to DSHS, in Texas, Phase 1B of vaccination will focus on people for whom there is strong and consistent evidence that COVID-19 makes them more likely to become very sick or die. Texas DSHS defines 1B candidates as people who are 65 and older or are 16 or older with at least one chronic medical condition that puts them at increased risk for severe illness from the virus that causes COVID-19, including but not limited to:
- Chronic kidney disease
- COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease)
- Heart conditions, such as heart failure, coronary artery disease, or cardiomyopathies
- Solid-organ transplantation
- Obesity and severe obesity (body mass index of 30 kg/m2 or higher)
- Sickle cell disease
- Type 2 diabetes mellitus
Those who also work in frontline and critical industries are considering eligible. Those who may be eligible for a vaccine under the DSHS 1B list include those age 65 and over and those who are 16 years of age and older with at least one chronic medical condition.
Crumley said anyone who believes they would qualify under the 1B list can visit the APH website to pre-register, but cautioned that, according to APH, completing pre-registration does not guarantee you will receive the vaccine or be guaranteed a scheduled appointment.
"Because the vaccine supply is still limited, we’re asking the public to be patient and understand that we want everyone who wants the vaccine to get it, but it may be days or weeks before an appointment is available," she said.
Residents are still encouraged to continue the simple protective measures that have been encouraged for nearly a year, such as staying home when possible, washing hands frequently, wearing masks, and practicing social distancing from others outside your household.
Hays County Judge Ruben Becerra said the county is prepared to begin implementing its vaccination plan for the general public but understands that it will take time to get the doses needed to begin that process. Until then, he urged all Hays County residents to continue working together to slow the spread of the coronavirus. He added that he hopes everyone will offer kindness and compassion to all those impacted by COVID-19.
"Trauma affects everyone and COVID has certainly brought trauma to our community," he said. "No one is immune, and the effects of the virus can hit any family or business. Please be kind to each other."