Austin, Texas – Three months into the local COVID-19 vaccine distribution, state data indicates that more than 29% of adult Travis County residents have received at least one dose of the vaccine, with 12% being fully vaccinated.
"We know that the COVID-19 pandemic has taken a toll on everyone," said APH Director Stephanie Hayden-Howard. "Whether that be physically or emotionally, everyone has had to change their daily routines and limit interactions that were once normal. These sacrifices have not gone unnoticed, and our community has done comparatively well in limiting COVID-19 cases and deaths. As supply increases and more people are able to get vaccinated, we will be able to begin a return to normalcy."
The beginning of the vaccine rollout focused on frontline healthcare workers as well as staff and residents of long-term care facilities (LTCFs). By prioritizing LTCFs for vaccination early on, associated cases and deaths at these facilities have plummeted in recent weeks.
As of Mar. 18, LTCFs had only six new COVID-19 cases reported in the previous 14 days, representing a 98% decrease compared to Jan. 21 when 273 new COVID-19 cases were reported in the previous 14 days.
"Last year as we began to understand how much COVID-19 would impact our community, one of the first steps we took was implementing control orders for nursing homes, assisted living and other long-term care facilities," said Dr. Mark Escott, Interim Austin-Travis County Health Authority. "From day one, it has been critical that we protect our most vulnerable populations, and this remained important as the vaccine rollout began."
Dr. Escott added: "Every person living in a long-term care facility is someone's loved one – mothers, fathers, grandmothers, and grandfathers. By prioritizing them at the beginning of vaccine distribution, additional lives were saved and has improved the ability of family members to more safely visit their loved ones in these facilities."
As the state expands vaccine eligibility to all adults beginning on Monday, Mar. 29, APH will continue to prioritize based on age and risk for severe disease.
Travis County is home to 129,438 individuals 65 years of age and older, and state data shows that 78,314 people (60.5%) in this prioritized age group have received at least one dose, with 23.4% of APH doses administered to those 60 years of age and older.
APH looks forward to the additional vaccine supply that the state is expecting next week, and while APH continues to prioritize vaccine appointments, all adults can register through APH or locate additional providers at www.VaccineFinder.org. Until Travis County reaches a level of herd immunity through vaccination, please continue to wear a mask, social distance, and practice good hygiene.