Anyone over the age of 50 is eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine in Texas starting Monday.
It comes as the state enters its first full week of no COVID-19 safety restrictions, following an order by Gov. Greg Abbott (R) lifting all pandemic mandates last Wednesday.
“The mask going away with the mask mandate has ramped up our efforts to try and get everyone registered,” said Leslie Armijo, with the group Don’t Wait Vaccinate.
Armijo’s organization held an event at St. Luke Catholic Church in Irving on Sunday, where it managed to register more than 700 people for a vaccine. Don’t Wait Vaccinate targets under-served communities who, due to language or socioeconomic barriers, may not know how to readily access the COVID-19 vaccine.
“We are ramping up efforts, we basically have an event almost every day,” Armijo said.
Over the weekend, crowds of people turned out in Dallas for St. Patrick’s Day. All of it coming as COVID-19 infection rates continue to trend down in Dallas County. But health experts worry the mass gatherings are coming too soon and could lengthen the pandemic.
Want to Get on a Vaccine Waitlist?
County health departments have launched waitlists for adults 16 years old and over.
You can register to recieve the vaccination in Collin, Dallas, Denton and Tarrant counties. Links are below:
You do not need to be a resident of the county to register for a COVID-19 vaccine in that county -- registration is open to anyone in Texas. For those without internet access, Tarrant County is also taking registrations by phone at 817-248-6299. In Dallas County, call the DCHHS vaccine hotline at 1-855-IMMUNE9 (1-855-466-8639). In Denton County, call 940-349-2585.
For a more detailed breakdown of who is included in each priority group in Texas, see this page from the Texas DSHS.
“We are making progress, let’s not blow this, we need to get transmission down to really low levels and get people vaccinated,” Dallas County Health and Human Services Director Dr. Philip Huang said.
Huang emphasized the importance of following new guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention surrounding activities and gatherings. While those who are vaccinated can do more, Huang said caution will remain vital.
“It is not recommended to go to these large gatherings with people you don’t know,” Huang said.
In Texas, the COVID-19 vaccines are currently is currently available to anyone over the age of 16, regardless of in which phase they had previously been grouped. President Biden said on April 6 the vaccine should be available to all Americans, in all states, by April 19.
The vaccines are still not approved for children however -- those trials are ongoing.
Once vaccinated, people who received either the Moderna or Pfizer vaccines are expected to get some level of protection within a couple of weeks after the first shot, but full protection may not happen until a couple of weeks after the second shot. For those who receive the Johnson & Johnson vaccine -- there is only one shot needed. Even when fully vaccinated, it's still possible to become infected by the virus since none of the vaccines offer 100% protection from infection. With that in mind, even if you've been vaccinated it's still a good idea to wear a mask and keep some separation between strangers or those whose vaccination status is unclear.
Waitlists for vaccinations have been established in Dallas, Denton, Collin and Tarrant counties -- links to sign up are here and below.