Are you perfectly healthy? Do you have a job that allows you to hole up in your house and avoid people? Have you been lamenting that you can’t get a Covid-19 vaccine because you don’t qualify under the state’s 1A–C categories? Well, now’s your chance.
On Tuesday, the Texas Department of State Health Services announced that all Texans will be eligible to receive a Covid-19 vaccine beginning Monday, March 29. According to a release, the DSHS expects to receive more vaccine supplies and will open eligibility for everyone who qualifies under the current Food and Drug Administration emergency use authorization—for Johnson & Johnson and Moderna, adults age 18 and older; for Pfizer, teenagers and adults age 16 and older.
“We are closing in on 10 million doses administered in Texas, and we want to keep up the momentum as the vaccine supply increases,” said Imelda Garcia, the DSHS associate commissioner for Laboratory and Infectious Disease Services and the Expert Vaccine Allocation Panel chair, in the release.
Although the state is opening eligibility, DSHS is asking providers to still prioritize seniors age 80 and older when scheduling appointments and bumping them to the front of the line at a vaccine distribution site, whether or not they have an appointment.
“As eligibility opens up,” said Garcia, “we are asking providers to continue to prioritize people who are the most at risk of severe disease, hospitalization and death—such as older adults.”
The DSHS is also launching next week a new vaccine sign-up portal called the Texas Public Health Vaccine Scheduler. Houstonians can also sign up through Harris County Public Health and the Houston Health Department or through local providers, such as Walgreens and H-E-B. Learn more here.
While this announcement is exciting and welcome, for folks keeping up with vaccine updates the news isn’t necessarily a surprise. On March 11, President Joe Biden announced that the White House, using the Department of Health and Human Services, would compel all local, tribal, and state governments to open vaccines to everyone by May 1. The goal? To get the United States back to a place of normalcy by July 4.
“Because of all the work we’ve done, we will have enough vaccine for all adults in America by the end of May,” Biden said at the time, per Stat News. “That’s months ahead of schedule, and we are mobilizing thousands of vaccinators to put the vaccine in one’s arm.”
According to DSHS data, 9,319,666 vaccine doses have been administered in Texas as of March 22, which shakes out to more than 6.3 million with at least one dose and almost 3.2 million who are fully vaccinated.
In Harris County, 989,115 people have received at least one shot, and 461,860 people have been fully vaccinated.