FILE – In this July 27, 2020, file photo, nurse Kathe Olmstead prepares a shot that is part of a possible COVID-19 vaccine, developed by the National Institutes of Health and Moderna Inc., in Binghamton, N.Y. Moderna Inc. says it will ask U.S. and European regulators to allow emergency use of its COVID-19 vaccine as new study results confirm the shots offer strong protection. (AP Photo/Hans Pennink, File)
AUSTIN (KXAN) — Texas is expected to receive its first allotment of COVID-19 vaccines in less than two weeks, but with a population of 29 million people, it needs to prioritize who will get it first.
Those who will be at the head of the line are healthcare workers and those at a higher risk if they get sick, according to a COVID-19 Town Hall held Thursday with Travis County health experts. Region 7, which includes Travis, Hays and Williamson Counties, has more than 1 million people with a medical condition considered high risk, 30,000 long-term care residents, 9,000 active EMS providers and 460,000 adults over the age of 65.
But, what about those who don’t meet that criteria? The New York Times’ Opinion section put together a tool that estimates people’s “spot” in the line for vaccines where they live. People fill out a form with their age, county, profession and whether they have health risks.
For example, a 30-year-old health care worker in Travis County with no health risks is behind “very few” others and appears as the third person in a line of 100 people. However, a healthy 30-year-old who doesn’t work as a health care worker, essential worker, first responder or teacher, is estimated to be behind 144.1 million people in the U.S., 12.4 million people in Texas and 459,100 others in Travis County.
The New York Times worked with the Surgo Foundation and Ariadne Labs and used their vaccine tool to help create the estimate. However, the final order of distribution isn’t yet finalized, and the logistics of distributing a vaccine may provide other challenges.
More than 4,000 medical providers in Texas have signed up to administer the vaccines once they’ve been approved and arrive. As of Wednesday, Texas reported more than 1.2 million coronavirus cases and 22,000 deaths.