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Who gets the COVID-19 vaccine next? Texas hasn’t decided

Health experts are still making recommendations about which groups of people will be next in line to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.

AUSTIN, Texas — Frontline workers are the only people getting the COVID-19 vaccine right now, but the KVUE Defenders looked into when the shot might be available for other people.

Because long-term care residents and frontline workers are both high-risk groups, they are first in line to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

A KVUE Defenders analysis of state data found about one in four COVID-19 deaths in Texas have been nursing home residents.

Meanwhile, healthcare workers are critical to combatting the spread of the virus, so Texas is prioritizing protecting their health.

A KVUE Defenders investigation found hospitals were one of the places with the most reported clusters of COVID-19 in Travis County. 

Right now, it is not clear which groups of people will get the vaccine next in Texas, but a spokesperson for the Department of State Health Services said we could see more widespread availability in the next few weeks.

The Expert Vaccine Allocation Panel is the group of appointed experts voting on who gets the vaccine and when.

Right now, frontline healthcare workers – like doctors, nurses and other medical facility staff – and long-term care residents are the only people eligible to get the vaccine. While workers at Dell Medical School were the first in Austin to receive the vaccine on Monday, the first vaccines in the federal Pharmacy Partnership for Long-Term Care Program will be provided to pharmacies during the week of Dec. 21, with the program officially beginning on Dec. 28.

But more groups will be added to that list in the coming months.

Recommendations from the EVAP are sent to the Texas Commissioner of Health for final approval.

On Monday, a spokesperson for the Department of State Health Services said it could be several months before there is more widespread availability of the vaccine.

“Our assumption has been perhaps by the second quarter of the year, we may see the vaccine really available at your doctor's office, the corner pharmacy, those kinds of places where people are used to getting vaccinated,” DSHS Spokesperson Chris Van Deusen said.

That’s just a rough estimate, though.

Here’s an official statement from DSHS addressing this as well:

“Texas’ Expert Vaccine Allocation Panel is still working on which populations will receive the vaccine after frontline health care workers and residents of long term care facilities. We don’t have an exact timeline on when it will be available to anyone who wants it as it will depend on the supply of vaccine allocated to Texas by the federal government and the number of people who want to get the vaccine. Texas is actively working to ensure that every community across the state has access to COVID-19 vaccines.”

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