Texas vaccine panel has ‘come to a conclusion’ on next phase of rollout

Texas Politics

A lab worker holds a vial of Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine candidate in an undated photograph. (Johnson & Johnson/Handout via REUTERS)

This article has been updated with information from DSHS on the Phase 1C announcement timeline.

AUSTIN (Nexstar) — The next phase of the Texas vaccine rollout is around the corner, according to a member of the panel coordinating the plan.

University of Texas administrator Dr. John Zerwas, a special advisor to Gov. Greg Abbott who also serves on the Expert Vaccine Allocation Panel, said Wednesday the panelists have finalized who will be eligible in the next phase, likely to be called 1C.

“The expert vaccine allocation panel has already come to a conclusion on what that group looks like,” Zerwas said.

He declined to share who the next round of eligibility includes.

“I won’t get ahead of the commissioner, he’ll make that announcement when he’s comfortable with the recommendation from the panel,” he said.

Zerwas explained the panel uses epidemiology to determine priority equitably.

“Who’s getting really sick and going to the hospital, and who’s dying from the disease,” he said.

Phases 1A and 1B, which include health care workers, seniors and Texans with chronic conditions, launched in December. Since then, nearly 6 million Texans have been partially vaccinated, and the state surpassed 2 million people fully vaccinated as of March 3.

Gov. Abbott hinted at an eligibility expansion during his Tuesday announcement where he lifted the statewide mask mandate and rescinded COVID-19 related restrictions.

“The vaccine supply is increasing so rapidly, Texas will soon expand the categories of people who are able to get them,” Abbott said. “Some medical professionals say that within a few months, every Texan who wants a vaccine shot will be able to get a vaccine shot.”

After the federal government mandated states prioritize teachers, the Texas Department of State Health Services notified vaccine providers in the state to open up eligibility to educators immediately on Wednesday.

At a Thursday media briefing, Texas Department of State Health Services Associate Commissioner for Laboratory and Infectious Disease Services Dr. Imelda Garcia said Phase 1C will be announced “soon.” Garcia, who serves as chair of the expert vaccine allocation panel, said she expected a formal announcement to come this month on which Texans fall into the next round of the rollout.

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