Many Texas seniors still not vaccinated despite 9.7M doses given, Gov. Abbott says

McALLEN, Texas (KTRK) -- As Texas expands its eligibility on who gets the COVID-19 vaccine, Gov. Greg Abbott gave more insight into the statewide efforts to get senior citizens vaccinated.

On Thursday, Abbott held a press conference in McAllen to discuss the "Save Our Seniors" initiative.

SEE ALSO: All Texas adults will be eligible for COVID-19 vaccine next week, state announces

Through the program, the Texas Division of Emergency Management (TDEM) and Texas Military Department will work with local jurisdictions to help set up a central drive-thru vaccine clinic in each community or administer directly to homebound seniors.

"These vaccines are working, but there are more seniors who still have yet to receive the COVID-19 vaccine," said Abbott as Texas reported some 9.7 million doses have been given.

Abbott announced the program back in February while in Corpus Christi, where he commended the city's fire department, Meals on Wheels and the city for their success of the senior vaccination program. He also added that the program served as a model for the statewide initiative.

SEE ALSO: UTMB nurses using time off to vaccinate COVID-19 patients who can't leave their homes

The program began in rural parts of Texas and working to perfect the program and get to places that don't have COVID-19 access. So far, 19 counties have participated in the program to vaccinate homebound seniors. Now, the goal is to reach more populated counties.

Counties who participated in the first round of the program were Aransas, Bastrop, Brewster, Brooks, Brown, Cass, Dallas, Eastland, Freestone, Gray, Hill, Hockley, Hudspeth, Hutchinson, Irion, Lee, McCulloch, Medina, Morris, Panola, Rains, Refugio, Robertson, San Jacinto, Shelby, and Webb.

According to the governor's website, the counties and cities were selected based on the following data provided by the Texas Department of State Health Services:

  • The state targeted areas with ongoing high hospitalizations
  • The state looked at the number of approved providers serving the area
  • The state took into account areas who reported no more than approximately a third vaccinated for seniors
  • The state took into account total allocations over the previous 12 weeks
  • The state utilized data showing the least vaccinated counties for both 65+ and 75+ administered doses
  • The state focused on allocating vaccine equitably across the state

Now, Hidalgo County will be taking part in the program this week.

It is not yet known when Harris County will be in the program.

While next week, more Texans will be eligible to get the vaccine, Abbott said the key focus remains to get the vaccine to seniors.

"Right now we are opening up access to vaccine shots to every adult, I want to double back and reemphasize that our key focus remains on making sure that seniors will be able to gain access to those vaccine shots," Abbott said.

According to Abbott, anyone who wants to get a vaccine shot should call 211. From there, you will be connected to COVID-19 response, where an operator will then give you the nearest location to get vaccinated.
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