Austin, Texas – The first shipment of COVID-19 vaccines have arrived in Austin-Travis County earlier this week through direct shipments to local hospitals. Vaccine supply is currently limited to healthcare workers defined by the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) Vaccine Allocation Guiding Principles.
"We are thrilled that more than 200 vaccine providers have registered through DSHS or the CDC to distribute COVID-19 vaccine in Austin-Travis County," said Cassandra DeLeon, Interim APH Assistant Director for Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. "As more vaccine becomes available, we need our community to look to the places they usually get vaccinated, such as doctor's offices and pharmacies to receive their COVID-19 vaccine."
As the vaccine distribution ramps up in the coming weeks and months, Austin Public Health (APH) will continue to serve as an informational hub; and while APH clinics are registered as a vaccine provider through DSHS, we will not serve as the distributor of vaccines to providers in our community. APH is committed to serving as a safety net for those without insurance when the vaccine is available and will focus our efforts on vaccination of our underserved population. APH does not oversee other providers and their individual distribution plans. However, APH is working across the healthcare system to set guidelines that support the CDC and DSHS framework for distribution.
"We are working with a large coalition from our Central Texas community and focusing on a data-driven approach to prioritization of vaccine distribution," said Dr. Mark Escott, Interim Austin-Travis County Health Authority.
The federal government, under the umbrella of Operation Warp Speed, has been working since the start of the pandemic to make a safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine available. After a vaccine is authorized or approved for use, many vaccine safety monitoring systems watch for possible side effects. This continued monitoring can pick up on side effects that may not have been seen in clinical trials.
"If you have the opportunity to receive the vaccine, take it," said APH Director Stephanie Hayden. "We are confident in the safety and effectiveness of the vaccine as the federal government has measures in place to ensure that all vaccines are as safe as possible."
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has published a fact sheet on the Pfizer vaccine for recipients and caregivers. The FDA Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee will be meeting again on Dec. 17 to discuss Emergency Use Authorization for the Moderna vaccine.
DSHS, CDC, and FDA Resources
The following resources have been made available by DSHS, the CDC, and the FDA.
For more information about COVID-19 vaccines, visit AustinTexas.gov/COVID19-Vaccines.