How can Texas make vaccines more accessible? Task force sends recommendations to Gov. Abbott

When Gov. Greg Abbott lifted coronavirus restrictions across Texas, he cited the rise of more COVID-19 vaccines making it to his state.

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But as has been reported lately, access to the shots has continued to be an issue, whether it's from complex signups for appointments, problems with transportation to vaccine sites or low supply, among other reasons.

On Wednesday, the Immunization Partnership, which is made up of medical, research and public health experts, gave recommendations to Abbott and other top state health officials to execute an immediate plan to improve vaccine distribution and allocation.

Among the experts advising Abbott are the Immunization Partnerships president and CEO Allison Winnike; Dr. Melanie Mouzoon, Kelsey-Seybold Clinic's managing physician for immunization practices and pediatric hospitalist; and Dr. Maria Elena Bottazzi, associate dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine. Bottazzi is also the co-director of Texas Children's Hospital Center for Vaccine Development.

SEE MORE: Look up how you can get COVID-19 vaccinations in Houston and across Texas

The panel's key points will be in the direction of improving the Texas vaccine registry and ensuring health equity at the top of the list, according to organizers.

The event comes just days after Texas began moving to the Phase 1C eligibility of vaccinations, which includes people 50 years old and older regardless of medical conditions.

The event also is coming at a dire time. The Texas Department of State Health Services reported 45,700 deaths from COVID-19 in the year since the first case emerged. Harris County has the tragic distinction of enduring the most coronavirus deaths at more than 5,500.

So far, more than 8.2 million vaccine doses have been administered in Texas, with nearly 3 million people fully vaccinated. Texas DSHS reported 12.4 million vaccine doses have been allocated to the state.

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