Austin, TX – Today, Dec. 4, Austin Public Health (APH) learned that a first shipment of Pfizer vaccines will be sent to the Austin area in mid-December, pending Emergency Use Authorization.
This information comes to APH from the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS), who, along with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), dictate how the vaccine is distributed. DSHS and CDC outline the priority populations that will first receive the vaccine.
"This entire process is a nationwide effort, and we are tailoring our local plan to Austin-Travis County as much as possible within the specifications set by the CDC and DSHS," said APH Director Stephanie Hayden. "DSHS and CDC are still developing their plans, as are we."
More than 150 providers, including APH, have registered through DSHS to distribute COVID-19 vaccine in Austin-Travis County, however, this initial shipment will go to a handful of hospitals in Travis, Hays, and Williamson counties.
"We are still gathering information about the first vaccine shipment to our area," said Dr. Mark Escott, Interim Austin-Travis County Health Authority. "We are excited for our hospital systems partners to begin vaccinating our front-line hospital workers against this virus. By protecting our healthcare system personnel we can ensure that we are able to meet the needs of COVID and non-COVID patients in our community. We are looking forward to vaccine shipments continuing in the weeks and months to come so that, in future phases, we can offer vaccines to those at high risk for severe disease as we progress down the path of community-wide vaccination."
APH, the local healthcare systems, and community partners have established a coalition to plan for COVID-19 vaccine distribution within Austin and Travis County. The coalition is developing strategies to reach the desired level of COVID-19 vaccination coverage through a phased approach.
Local jurisdiction coalitions have been identified at the federal level as a best practice and are key to successful rapid vaccine distribution planning. Coalition members continue to assess the evolving situation, inform operational plans, and collaboratively identify resources. The coalition focuses on these key areas:
Identifying Priority Populations
Vaccine Distribution Channels
The coalition is working with the latest, best information available to make informed decisions with the goal for Austin and Travis County to be ready for the vaccine.
"This is an exciting moment for us in Austin-Travis County, and we have been planning for it for a while now," said Cassandra DeLeon, APH Interim Assistant Director. "It's important to remember that while we might be starting to see a light at the end of the COVID-19 tunnel, it will still be important to social distance, wear a mask, wash your hands, and avoid gathering this holiday season. We will need a lot more than this initial shipment of vaccines to ensure the safety of our entire community. It is important that we stay the course, especially now."
Previously-recorded Vaccine Information
APH leadership has presented information and answered questions about the COVID-19 vaccine at a Dec. 2 media availability (Spanish interpretation) and a Dec. 3 Travis County Medical Society and Dell Med town hall. Media are able to use this footage for information about the vaccine from local health leadership.
DSHS, CDC, and FDA Resources
The following resources have been made available by DSHS, the CDC, and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
For more information about COVID-19, visit AustinTexas.gov/COVID19.