By Annaleise Parsons | Staff Writer
The Texas State Department of Health Services announced this Monday that all people age 16 and up in Texas will be eligible for COVID-19 vaccines Monday. Baylor’s vaccine clinic plans to work its way through the waitlist while prioritizing vulnerable people on the list.
Before this announcement, the COVID-19 vaccine was only available to certain groups, including health care workers, those with underlying medical conditions and childcare workers. State residency or U.S. citizenship is not a requirement in order to receive the vaccine.
For all adults, three brands of the vaccine are available, but for those that are younger than 18, only the Pfizer vaccine is recommended. As of right now, Waco is only distributing the Moderna vaccine.
Baylor University Health Services, dependent on the amount of vaccines they receive, plans to distribute vaccines to those on the waitlist in Phase 1A and 1B before opening up distribution in general.
“We will first work down the waitlist and let all of the people who filled out the vaccine interest form have the opportunity to make an appointment, beginning with people who are in the higher risk categories,” Dr. Sharon Stern, medical director at Baylor Health Services, said. “We will then open up appointments up to all who wish to get the vaccine, although we plan to still prioritize people who are at increased risk.”
Stern said the vaccine clinic has been averaging about 240 doses a day and that this number could increase if more doses of the vaccine become available.
“We order around 1000 of each: Moderna, Pfizer and Janssen every week. We generally find out if we will get any vaccine the Friday before they arrive,” Stern said.
Austin freshman AnnaGrace Hale said she plans to get the vaccine as soon as the eligibility opens up for her Monday, since she wasn’t able to get a vaccine beforehand.
“I’m getting the vaccine to protect myself, my family and my community … just to have that peace of mind that I’m safe in large groups of people and safe when I see my grandparents.” Hale said. “It is a peace of mind and an end to a pandemic that has negatively affected all of us.”
According to the COVID-19 vaccine dashboard on the TXDHS website, over 3 million people are fully vaccinated in Texas. The new expansion of vaccine eligibility allows 22 million people access to the vaccine beginning next week. In McLennan County, about 26,820 people are fully vaccinated out of a population of 200,781 adults.