Last week, Gov. Greg Abbott said the state would be rolling out a plan for its eventual allotment of COVID-19 vaccine. Monday, he and the Texas Department of State Health Services gave more details.
“Swift distribution of vaccines and medical treatments will begin to heal those suffering from COVID-19, slow the spread of the virus, and aid in reducing hospitalizations of Texans,” Abbott said last week. “As we anticipate the arrival of COVID-19 vaccines and treatments, the State of Texas is prepared to quickly distribute those medicines to Texans who voluntarily choose to use them.”
Abbott said that the allocation principles were based on advice from the Expert Vaccine Allocation Panel created by DSHS to make recommendations on how to best roll out the vaccine, including identifying groups that should get the immunization first.
“These guiding principles established by the Expert Vaccine Allocation Panel will ensure that the State of Texas swiftly distributes the COVID-19 vaccine to Texans who voluntarily choose to be immunized,” said Abbott. “This foundation for the allocation process will help us mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in our communities, protect the most vulnerable Texans, and safeguard crucial state resources.”
Texas will initially allocate COVID-19 vaccines based on the following criteria:
- Protecting health care workers who fill a critical role in caring for and preserving the lives of COVID-19 patients and maintaining the health care infrastructure for all who need it.
- Protecting frontline workers who are at greater risk of contracting COVID-19 due to the nature of their work providing critical services and preserving the economy.
- Protecting vulnerable populations who are at greater risk of severe disease and death if they contract COVID-19.
- Mitigating health inequities due to factors such as demographics, poverty, insurance status and geography.
- Data-driven allocations using the best available scientific evidence and epidemiology at the time, allowing for flexibility for local conditions.
- Geographic diversity through a balanced approach that considers access in urban and rural communities and in affected ZIP codes.
- Transparency through sharing allocations with the public and seeking public feedback.
EVAP has recommended, and the Commissioner of Health John Hellerstedt has approved, health care workers likely to provide direct care for COVID-19 patients and other vulnerable residents to be the first group to receive the vaccine. This includes staff at hospitals and long-term care facilities, emergency medical services and home health care workers. As part of its ongoing work, EVAP will make recommendations on how and when to roll out vaccine to other critical groups.