HOUSTON - Preparations are underway across Texas to soon distribute COVID-19 vaccines.
On Monday, Governor Greg Abbott announced part of his plan towards giving out the vaccines.
According to Governor Abbott, Texas will initially allocate COVID-19 vaccines based on “protecting health care workers, protecting frontline workers, protecting vulnerable populations, mitigating health inequities, data-drive allocations, geographic diversity, and transparency.
"These guiding principles established by the Expert Vaccine Allocation Panel will ensure that the State of Texas swiftly distributes the COVID-19 vaccine to Texans who voluntarily choose to be immunized," said Governor Abbott. "This foundation for the allocation process will help us mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in our communities, protect the most vulnerable Texans, and safeguard crucial state resources."
Governor Abbott and the Texas Department of State Health Services appointed a panel to make vaccine allocation decisions. Health care workers who are likely to treat COVID-19 patients will receive the vaccine first.
“We’re hopeful that we’ll get first doses sometime in December,” said Roberta Schwartz, Executive Vice President at Houston Methodist Hospital.
The vaccines will likely be rolled-out in phases to additional portions of the population.
“We predict that probably in the spring time-frame is where we will see more of the general public getting access to these vaccines,” said Marie Elena Bottazzi from Texas Children’s Center for Vaccine Development at Baylor College of Medicine.
First responders are second-in-line for the vaccine including Houston police officers and firefighters. “It would really be a game-changer for us,” said Houston Fire Chief Samuel Pena. “The number of personnel just in quarantine, exposed to this virus, is really causing a strain on our ability to staff our apparatus.”
According to Chief Pena, more than 300 Houston firefighters have tested positive for COVID-19 in 2020 while 3 have died. “We don’t know how many dosages we’re going to be able to receive,” said Chief Pena. “We’re going to prioritize those most at-risk for exposure. That would be those on our ambulances.”
Operation “Warp Speed” advisors hope to vaccinate at least 70 percent of the population by May.
“While I know there’s a lot of concern about who is first, second, and third in line, the hope is that we just continue to get people vaccinated as quickly as we can,” said Schwartz.