AUSTIN, Texas - Three months into the local COVID-19 vaccine distribution, health officials say that state data indicates that more than 29% of adult Travis County residents have received at least one dose of the vaccine with 12% being fully vaccinated.
Austin Public Health (APH) data shows that APH alone has administered 139,452 cumulative first and second doses as of March 20.
The beginning of the vaccine rollout focused on frontline healthcare workers as well as staff and residents of long-term care facilities (LTCFs). By prioritizing LTCFs for vaccination early on, officials say associated cases and deaths at those types of facilities have plummeted in recent weeks.
As of March 18, LTCFs had only six new COVID-19 cases reported in the previous 14 days, representing a 98% decrease compared to January 21 when 273 new COVID-19 cases were reported in the previous 14 days.
Dr. Mark Escott, Interim Austin-Travis County Health Authority, says in a news release "Every person living in a long-term care facility is someone’s loved one – mothers, fathers, grandmothers, and grandfathers. By prioritizing them at the beginning of vaccine distribution, additional lives were saved and has improved the ability of family members to more safely visit their loved ones in these facilities."
As the state expands vaccine eligibility to all adults beginning on Monday, March 29, APH says it will continue to prioritize based on age and risk for severe disease.
Travis County is home to 129,438 individuals 65 years of age and older, and state data shows that 78,314 people (60.5%) in this prioritized age group have received at least one dose, with 23.4% of APH doses administered to those 60 years of age and older.
Officials remind people that until herd immunity through vaccination is reached, that people should continue to wear a mask, social distance, and practice good hygiene.
"We know that the COVID-19 pandemic has taken a toll on everyone," said APH Director Stephanie Hayden-Howard. "Whether that be physically or emotionally, everyone has had to change their daily routines and limit interactions that were once normal. These sacrifices have not gone unnoticed, and our community has done comparatively well in limiting COVID-19 cases and deaths. As supply increases and more people are able to get vaccinated, we will be able to begin a return to normalcy."