HARLINGEN, Texas (KVEO) — The state of Texas is once again expanding who is eligible to receive COVID-19 vaccines.
Texas recently allowed anyone over the age of 50 to get a COVID-19 vaccine. Starting March 29, Texas will allow every adult to be eligible for a vaccine.
The quick expansion of eligibility is faster than the health officials at the Department of State Health Services (DSHS) anticipated.
“I think we were all thinking, like, ‘okay maybe by… maybe in May or June we can open this up and really get the bulk of Texans vaccinated’,” said Chris Van Deusen, the director of media relations for DSHS.
According to Van Deusen, how quickly the state was vaccinating people in phases 1A and 1B played a direct role in the decision to expand eligibility.
However, only around one-quarter of the population had received at least one dose of the vaccine, and not everyone in phases 1A and 1B has been able to get the vaccine yet.
So what will happen to the people in those groups now that everyone is eligible?
Van Deusen said that the DSHS has instructed vaccine providers to prioritize members of 1A, 1B, and even 1C over the rest of the adult population.
“Most at risk for getting really, really sick if they do get Covid-19, ending up in the hospital or dying. And so still asking providers, where they have 1B/1C older adult population particularly, that they are prioritizing them,” he said.
He added that those over the age of 80, who have not yet received a vaccination, will be prioritized the most.
“Just accommodate. If they show up, whether or not they have an appointment or not, make sure that they’re taken care of. Move them to the front of the line, get them vaccinated so they can get protected as quickly as possible,” said Van Deusen.
DSHS will have a webpage that allows Texans to register to get a vaccine from one of their local health centers soon. It will be a part of their COVID-19 website.
But not everyone has access to the internet, so there is another way those without internet can get on the list.
“People can dial 211 and get a referral to a provider. Many of the providers do have phone numbers as well,” said Van Deusen.