Governor Greg Abbott and the Texas Department of State Health Services , or DSHS, announced Monday the guiding principles for the Texas’ COVID-19 vaccine allocation process, which will serve as a foundation for the state’s initial distribution for COVID-19 vaccines expected as early as next month.
These principles have been established by the Expert Vaccine Allocation Panel , or EVAP, created by DSHS to make recommendations on vaccine allocation decisions, including identifying groups that should be vaccinated first to provide the most protection to vulnerable populations and critical state resources.
“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.”
Texas will initially allocate COVID-19 vaccines based on the following criteria:
- Protecting health care workers who fill a critical role in caring for and preserving the lives of COVID-19 patients and maintaining the health care infrastructure for all who need it.
- Protecting frontline workers who are at greater risk of contracting COVID-19 due to the nature of their work providing critical services and preserving the economy.
- Protecting vulnerable populations who are at greater risk of severe disease and death if they contract COVID-19.
- Mitigating health inequities due to factors such as demographics, poverty, insurance status and geography.
- Data-driven allocations using the best available scientific evidence and epidemiology at the time, allowing for flexibility for local conditions.
- Geographic diversity through a balanced approach that considers access in urban and rural communities and in affected ZIP codes.
- Transparency through sharing allocations with the public and seeking public feedback.
EVAP has recommended, and the Commissioner of Health John Hellerstedt has approved, health care workers likely to provide direct care for COVID-19 patients and other vulnerable residents to be the first group to receive the vaccine.
This includes staff at hospitals and long-term care facilities, emergency medical services and home health care workers. As part of its ongoing work, EVAP will make recommendations on how and when to roll out vaccine to other critical groups.
The U.S. government on Tuesday will start distributing 30,000 doses of an experimental antibody drug to fight COVID-19, the one President Donald Trump received last month.
Over the weekend, the Food and Drug Administration agreed to allow emergency use of the drug, made by Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc., for people with mild to moderate symptoms who are at high risk of developing serious illness because of their age or other medical conditions.
It’s not authorized for use in sicker, hospitalized patients or those who need extra oxygen.
Antibodies bind to the virus and help the immune system eliminate it. The Regeneron drug is a combo of two antibodies that seemed to do this well in lab tests.
The emergency authorization allows limited use of a drug while studies continue to test its safety and effectiveness. Early results suggest it may reduce COVID-19-related hospitalization or emergency room visits.
The drugs are given as a one-time treatment through an IV.
Under federal contracts, the drugs for now will be supplied for free, although patients may have to pay part of the cost of the IV treatment.