The Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) announced yesterday it was expanding COVID-19 vaccination to people 50-64 years of age starting Monday, March 15. More than 93 percent of the Texas fatalities caused by the coronavirus have been in people 50 and older, with those ages 50 to 64 accounting for 20 percent of all fatalities.
“We’ve seen a remarkable decrease in the number of hospitalizations and deaths since people 65 and older started becoming fully vaccinated in January,” said Imelda Garcia, DSHS associate commissioner for laboratory and infectious disease services and chair of the Expert Vaccine Allocation Panel. “Expanding to ages 50 to 64 will continue the state’s priorities of protecting those at the greatest risk of severe outcomes and preserving the state’s health care system.”
According to DSHS, more than half of all Texas seniors have gotten at least one dose of vaccine, and 30 percent are now fully vaccinated. The number of COVID-19 positive patients in Texas hospitals has fallen by two-thirds from its peak in January. There are about 5 million Texans between the ages of 50 and 64.
The state’s COVID-19 vaccination program began with Phase 1A in December with health care workers and long-term care facility residents and staff. Phase 1B began later that month to vaccinate people 65 and older and others with medical conditions. Texas last week added school and child care workers to the eligible population following a directive from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
“It’s important for our North Texas residents to know how these vaccines are very well tested and more closely examined than many things presently on the market,” said Stephen Love, president/CEO of the DFW Hospital Council. “Bringing an end to this pandemic is a job for everyone—not just our healthcare heroes. Our dedicated scientists have provided us a solution. Now it’s our responsibility to take advantage of that solution as quickly as possible.”
More information on the new 1C priority group is available at dshs.texas.gov/coronavirus/immunize/vaccine/EVAP-Phase1C.pdf.