The Texas A&M University System plans to serve underserved communities by bringing the coronavirus vaccine to rural areas.
Ten Texas counties will receive the vaccine: DeWitt, Glasscock, Kenedy, Marion, Motley, McMullen, Real, Sherman, Starr, and Terrell.
Homebound Texans 65-years-old and older are the target of this vaccine distribution, which is a part of the university system's new State Mobile Vaccine Pilot Program. The program was first introduced by Gov. Greg Abbott (R) in January.
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“The State Mobile Vaccine Program is an important part of our work to get more vaccines in arms and ensure the health and safety of our communities," Abbott said.
The deliveries of the vaccines will be made by The Texas Division of Emergency Management, the Texas Military Department (TMD), the Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension, and the Texas National Guard.
TMD will provide medics to vaccinate members of the communities, while Texas A&M System partners will use a transport system they've been using to deliver vaccines since May, they call their "Pony Express".
“The Texas A&M System has people on the ground who are already well-known by the communities they serve, in every county in the state, making us the perfect partner to assist with the State Mobile Vaccine Pilot Program,” Chancellor of The Texas A&M University System, John Sharp said. “We are proud to be a part of this life-saving effort to serve these rural communities in need.”
The vaccine is currently only being administered to those who are part of Phase 1A and 1B, as outlined by the Texas Department of State Health Services. Those in Phase 1A are front-line healthcare workers or residents of long-term care facilities. Phase 1B includes those who are over the age of 65, or those over the age of 16 with a chronic medical condition that puts them at risk for severe illness.
On March 3, vaccine availability was expanded to include school and child care workers.
Once vaccinated, people 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. Even when fully vaccinated, it's still possible to become infected by the virus since the vaccine does not offer 100% protection.
The Texas DSHS advises that the vaccine will not be readily available for the general public until late spring or early summer 2021.