North Texas Doctor Concerned Expanded Eligibility Will Impact Vaccine Supply for At-Risk Populations

Community groups are ramping up efforts to get elderly and at-risk people signed up for the COVID-19 vaccine as the state prepares to expand eligibility

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Beginning Monday, every adult in Texas will be eligible for a COVID-19 vaccination. But one North Texas doctor wonders what that will mean for the elderly and people still waiting to get their shots.

The expanded eligibility means between 8 to 10 million more Texans will be able to get the shot. 

Dr. Antonio Rozier is worried about how the rollout might affect supply and access to the vaccines for older and at-risk populations.

“We will not be at herd immunity until that population gets these doses and gets fully vaccinated," said Rozier, an interventional spine specialist in Mansfield. "That’s why it’s so important for us to vaccinate them."

Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins said people 80 and older will continue to take priority. 

“That’s anywhere in Texas starting Monday, people 80-plus can show up and get a shot that day,” he said.   

Jenkins said "anywhere from 30,000 to 40,000, maybe 50,000" people will be vaccinated this week at Fair Park.

Local organizations and nonprofits have also stepped up to help older residents through drives to get seniors registered for vaccinations. 

Earlier this year, the Visiting Nurse Association of Texas partnered with the state and first responders to give in-home vaccines to homebound seniors and adults in Dallas County.  

Douglas Loveday, a spokesman for the Texas Department of State Health Services, said expanding who is eligible will give providers more flexibility.

Providers in some parts of the state were reaching the end of their waiting lists and may not have many people left to vaccinate in the 1A, 1B and 1C groups, he said.

"This will give them the flexibility to continue to vaccinate people in their area while other providers can continue to prioritize people in one of the priority groups," he said.

The state is expecting to receive more than one million first doses in the coming week.  

Looking ahead, Loveday said federal partners expect vaccine allocations to increase in the coming weeks as production ramps up for the three available vaccines.

"There are also two other vaccines that have completed clinical trials and will soon present their data for emergency use authorization by the FDA," he said.

As more people get the vaccine, Rozier hopes younger adults don’t lower their guard too soon. 

“I was driving by Deep Ellum last night, and it was nuts. They had barricades out, people were everywhere," he said. "So I still think we should chill a little bit. We’re not quite there just yet. We got so far. Let’s just relax and get that point, and then go out. Otherwise, we’re going to be back inside again, and you don’t want that."

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