Health Officials Prepare as Texas Opens Covid-19 Vaccination to All Adults

Texas opens up vaccine eligibility to everyone who qualifies On March 29th.

Texas Department of State Health Services announced exciting vaccine news in a press release. All adults will be Covid-19 vaccine eligible starting March 29. Anyone 16 years and up who currently qualifies under the Food and Drug Administration emergency use authorization may receive one of the three FDA-approved Covid vaccines. 

These expanded guidelines come at an optimal time as the Dallas Fort Worth Metroplex copes with an increase in Covid variants. Opening up the eligibility pool will help reach the 29 million Texas residents. After Governor Abbot reopened the state 100%, the race is on to see if Texas can vaccinate enough people to beat the variants’ rise. 

So far, Texas has administered 9.3 million doses, and the state expects to receive an allotment of 900,000 more this week. Six million Texans have received at least one dose, and 3 million are now fully vaccinated. Recent data from the Texas CARES project, the largest Covid-19 testing database in the United States, showed only up to 24% of Texas have Covid-19 antibodies. 

The Texas Department of State Services (DSHS) associate commissioner Imelda Garcia said, “We are closing in on 10 million doses administered in Texas, and we want to keep up the momentum as the vaccine supply increases.” 

New DSHS guidelines have encouraged sites to prioritize those over age 80 as these patients are the most at risk for severe disease, hospitalization, and death from Covid-19. People over 80 qualify for a vaccination with or without an appointment and are to be moved to the front of the line. Pregnant women and teachers already qualify under existing regulations. 

Dallas county offers vaccination at multiple sites. Local businesses, like Krispy Kreme, are encouraging vaccine compliance through special offers. Health officials are making efforts to overcome vaccine hesitancy and racial disparities.

Image CC Dallas County Health

There are three FDA-approved vaccines for Covid-19. The two messenger RNA vaccines from Moderna and Pfizer offer 95% protection against Covid-19. The Covid-19 vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna use messenger RNA (mRNA). A single strand of mRNA delivers instructions to human cells to produce an antibody against the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein. 

The Johnson and Johnson’s Janssen vaccine offers 72% protection against infection and 86% against severe disease. The Janssen vaccine uses Adenovirus 26 (AD26) as the vector to deliver DNA material into our cells to provoke an immune response.

The Moderna and Janssen vaccines are approved for those 18 years old and up. The Pfizer vaccine is approved starting at age 16. 

All three vaccines are highly effective in preventing death.

The AstraZeneca vaccine is expected to be approved soon under the Emergency Use Authorization providing the United States with a fourth vaccine option. Data released on March 22 showed the vaccine is 79% effective at preventing mild disease and 100% effective at preventing death. An approved vaccine from AstraZeneca would give the US a fourth safe and effective option along with the Pfizer, Moderna, and Janssen/Johnson & Johnson vaccines.

Student with mask breathing fresh air in a park Photo: AntonioGuillem Istock/Getty Images

Here is what we know about post-vaccine immunity with the two Covid-19 vaccines currently available in the U.S.: In phase 3 clinical trials, the Pfizer vaccine showed a 95% efficacy seven days after the second dose. The Moderna vaccine offers 94% immunity at least 14 days after dose number two. The Janssen vaccine takes effect after 14 days as well. 

Two weeks after completing the vaccination course, recipients can rest assured their risk of severe disease from Covid-19 is very low. But we must remember that the risk is not zero.

The Covid-19 vaccine protects us from getting the disease. However, at this moment, we do not yet know if the vaccine prevents transmission. There is a growing amount of encouraging evidence regarding the protective effect of the vaccine against transmission, but at this moment, we don’t currently know whether a vaccinated person can still transmit the SARS-CoV-2 virus to others.

No vaccine is 100% effective, and according to the current data, 5% of those getting a Covid-19 mRNA vaccine may still be at risk. 

Vaccine recipients should continue to wash their hands, wear a face mask in public, and practice social distancing.

Texas residents can register for the vaccine here.

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Dr Jeff Livingstonhttps://medika.life
Jeff is Co-Founder of Medika Life. He is a Board Certified Obgyn and CEO of MacArthur Medical Center in Irving, Texas. He is a nationally recognized thought leader, speaker, writer, blogger, and practicing physician who is considered an expert in the use of social media to educate patients, using new and innovative technology to improve care outcomes and the patient experience.

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