Update: Jan. 4
Hays County Judge Ruben Becerra wrote a letter to Texas Gov. Greg Abbott Jan. 4 expressing concern involving the local distribution of COVID-19 vaccines.
In the letter, Becerra said he believes local public health departments have not been considered priority providers for vaccine distribution and urges Abbott to prioritize the delivery of vaccines to local governments.
"I take this time to ask that you please provide vaccines to our local public health departments, so that we may continue our aggressive response to COVID-19," Becerra said in the letter.
The letter states that access to vaccines will help local governments work most efficiently and utilize resources provided in the best interest for county residents.
Medical providers in Hays County are in the process of vaccinating healthcare workers and first responders, Hays County Judge Ruben Becerra announced Dec. 31.
Tier 1A, the name for the group in the process of getting vaccinated, includes first responders, direct care hospital workers, long term care workers, EMS 9-1-1, home health providers, pharmacy workers and school nurses.
"The State has yet to release vaccines to Hays County Public Health, but we anticipate receiving a shipment within the next couple of weeks," Becerra said in a press release. "Once received we will notify the public."
The county says vaccines have been distributed to several local providers, including San Marcos Family Medicine, Seton Hays, Austin Regional Clinic, Baylor Scott & White, Wimberley Pharmacy, along with HEB's in San Marcos, Buda, Dripping Springs, Wimberley and Kyle.
According to the press release, some medical providers have began vaccination of Tier 1B which includes persons 65+ or 16+ who are pregnant or have a chronic medical condition.
Vaccines are free, however, registration or an initial doctor's visit may be required at certain medical facilities before vaccines are administered. Individuals are encouraged to call facilities directly to schedule a vaccination.
The Texas Department of State Health Services has said it will allocate COVID-19 vaccines "that are in limited supply" based on: Protecting healthcare workers, protecting front-line workers, protecting vulnerable populations, mitigating health inequities, data-driven allocations, geographic diversity and transparency.
The state's "Phase 1A" is aimed to place healthcare workers at the front of vaccine distribution. Phase 1A is divided into two tiers.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends giving the U.S. approved COVID-19 vaccines, Pfizer and Moderna, in phases:
- 1a: Healthcare personnel and long-term care facility residents,
- 1b: Frontline essential workers and people ages 75 or older
- 1c: Peoples aged 65-74 years old and people aged 16-54 with underlying medical conditions; other essential workers.
The University Star will continue to provide more information as it becomes available.