Texans 65 and older or with certain medical conditions in next phase of COVID-19 vaccine distribution

Posted at 3:25 PM, Dec 21, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-21 16:25:29-05

The Texas Department of State Health Services has announced people 65 and older or with certain medical conditions will be allowed to receive a COVID-19 vaccine in the next phase of the state's distribution.

DSHS says more than 70% of COVID-19 deaths in Texas have occurred in people 65 and older. Adults of any age with certain medical conditions have an increased risk of hospitalization and death if they get sick with COVID-19.

At a meeting on December 17, the Expert Vaccine Allocation Panel recommended vaccinating these groups in Phase 1B of vaccine distribution. DSHS Commissioner John Hellerstedt, MD, has approved the definition.

“The focus on people who are age 65 and older or who have comorbidities will protect the most vulnerable populations,” said Imelda Garcia, EVAP chair and DSHS associate commissioner for laboratory and infectious disease services. “This approach ensures that Texans at the most severe risk from COVID-19 can be protected across races and ethnicities and regardless of where they work.”

Texas Phase 1B COVID-19 Vaccine Priorities include:

  • People 65 years of age and older
  • People 16 years of age and older with at least one chronic medical condition that puts them at increased risk for severe illness from the virus that causes COVID-19, such as but not limited to:
    • Cancer
    • Chronic kidney disease
    • COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease)
    • Heart conditions, such as heart failure, coronary artery disease or cardiomyopathies
    • Solid organ transplantation
    • Obesity and severe obesity (body mass index of 30 kg/m2 or higher)
    • Pregnancy
    • Sickle cell disease
    • Type 2 diabetes mellitus

Texas is currently in Phase 1A of the COVID-19 vaccine distribution. This phase includes long-term care facilities residents and front-line healthcare workers.

There are an estimated 1.9 million Texans in those groups, meaning it will likely be at least a few weeks before a transition to Phase 1B occurs. This timing depends on the amount of vaccines the state receives as well as the uptake of vaccine among the priority populations.