Governor Abbott and the Texas Department of State Health Services have announced guidelines for allocating the COVID-19 vaccine when it arrives in Texas.
After the Federal Drug Administration gives vaccine candidates emergency approval, the Trump Administration plans to ship the first batches to states shortly after.
While vaccines could possibly make their way to Texas as early as December, the DSHS’s Expert Vaccine Allocation Panel has been tasked with “identifying groups that should be vaccinated first to provide the most protection to vulnerable populations and critical state resources”.
The guidelines the EVAP has established for vaccine distribution are as follows:
- Protecting health care workers who fill a critical role in caring for and preserving the lives of COVID-19 patients and maintaining the health care infrastructure for all who need it.
- Protecting frontline workers who are at greater risk of contracting COVID-19 due to the nature of their work providing critical services and preserving the economy.
- Protecting vulnerable populations who are at greater risk of severe disease and death if they contract COVID-19.
- Mitigating health inequities due to factors such as demographics, poverty, insurance status and geography.
- Data-driven allocations using the best available scientific evidence and epidemiology at the time, allowing for flexibility for local conditions.
- Geographic diversity through a balanced approach that considers access in urban and rural communities and in affected ZIP codes.
- Transparency through sharing allocations with the public and seeking public feedback.
Based on the criteria above, the panel recommends health care workers who provide direct care to COVID-19 patients and other vulnerable patients should receive the vaccine first. This includes “staff at hospitals and long-term care facilities, emergency medical services and home health care workers”.
Decisions regarding vaccine allocation are ongoing, and EVAP will have more recommendations on who should get the vaccine next as more vaccines become available.