Austin, TX – Austin Public Health (APH), working collaboratively with Travis County and community partners, has exceeded its goal of protecting 70% of residents 12 years and older with at least one dose of vaccine. However, the presence of the Delta and other variants has prompted a reassessment of the minimum threshold for herd immunity as health experts call on communities and neighborhoods to help boost vaccination rates.
"We continue to monitor our case numbers and hospital admissions as we know that there will be an impact on these due to the presence of the Delta variant. We will make adjustments in our recommendations accordingly," said Dr. Desmar Walkes, Austin-Travis County Health Authority. "At the same time, the situation calls for everyone taking responsibility for themselves and determining their own level of risk."
Confirmed cases of the Delta variant in Central Texas have made reaching herd immunity a moving target. Herd immunity was initially defined as the point at which a large portion of the community would become immune to the virus, halting its spread. But as long as pockets of the population remain unvaccinated and vulnerable to infection, more dangerous mutations of the virus will continue to appear and spread.
"Today, July 7, Austin Public Health reported 159 new cases along with an increasing positivity rate of 4.3%," added Dr. Walkes. "We are beginning to see an increase in COVID-19 cases in Travis County, similar to what has been seen in other parts of the country."
According to the Texas Department of State Health Services, 60.8% of eligible Travis County residents have been fully vaccinated, and 70% have received at least one dose.
"Our advice remains the same: Get vaccinated. It's the best way to protect yourself, your loved ones, and your neighborhood as a whole," said Interim APH Director Adrienne Sturrup. "We are working closely with community partners to meet and vaccinate people on their terms, in the places where they gather, shop and worship to make sure everyone has the opportunity to be safe and protected."
APH remains focused on targeted outreach, especially where disparities rooted in systemic inequities continue to persist for communities of color. Recognizing misinformation continues to spread about the vaccine and virus, organizations can also request a COVID-19 vaccination education event through APH by completing this form.
COVID-19 vaccinations are free and do not require insurance or identification. Vaccines.gov can help locate providers in your area with a supply of COVID-19 vaccines. You can also text your zip code to 438829 (822862 for Spanish) for the vaccination sites closest to your neighborhood.
For additional COVID-19 information and updates, visit www.AustinTexas.gov/COVID19.