Half of eligible Texans now fully vaccinated against COVID-19

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Texas has taken another step forward in its efforts to vaccinate people against COVID-19: As of Monday, more than 50% of Texans eligible for the vaccine – those aged 12 and older – have been fully immunized.

The current vaccination rate of 50.1%, reported by the state on Tuesday, falls far short of the original target set by President Joe Biden’s administration – 70% of eligible Americans fully vaccinated by the holiday weekend. In recent months, vaccination rates have slowed considerably, forcing local authorities to rely on incentives to bring people in for injections.

“The problem is that ’50 percent vaccinated’ doesn’t mean that in all communities 50 percent are vaccinated,” said Catherine Troisi, infectious disease epidemiologist at UTHealth’s School of Public Health. “For people over 65, it’s very high. In young people, not so well – 12-17 year olds.

Immunization rates peaked in April, less than a month after the state’s Department of Health Services extended eligibility criteria to all adults. Public health officials struggle to overcome hesitation over vaccines and get people to vaccination sites, which can operate at times and in places that are difficult for people to reach.

As the United States Food and Drug Administration cleared Pfizer for emergency use in 12 to 15 year olds in mid-May, causing a small increase in registrations, most states across the country are rushing to convince more people to sign. up.

About 1 million residents of Bexar County – nearly 60% of the eligible population – have been fully vaccinated against the coronavirus. More than 1.2 million, or almost 74 percent, received at least one dose.

Rogelio Quiroz, with his friend Eudelia Vasquez, left, hits out at nutrition site supervisor Ester Villalpando after Quiroz received the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine earlier this year. As of Monday, more than 50% of Texans eligible for the vaccine – those aged 12 and older – have been fully vaccinated.

Lisa Krantz / Team Photographer

One of San Antonio’s largest vaccination sites, the Wonderland of the Americas vaccination center run by University Health, closed on Friday. It had been open for a little over six months.

“In our busiest time, we were giving almost 8,000 injections a day,” said Bill Phillips, senior vice president and chief information officer at University Health. Phillips has been in charge of day-to-day operations from the start.

But in recent weeks, the number of people coming for the vaccine has declined as more and more people are getting the vaccine.

Deputy city manager Colleen Bridger, who oversees the San Antonio Metropolitan Health District, said last week that health officials were struggling to reach around 100,000 residents who received their first injection but were not income for the second.

More than 25 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been administered in Texas, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. While the state received the second highest number of vaccine doses in the country, it ranks 37th in immunization rates among all states.

As the delta variant spreads rapidly across the country – about 1 in 4 new infections in the United States are linked to the variant – infectious disease experts fear that the unvaccinated may be at high risk of serious illness.

“We are still learning about the long-term consequences,” Troisi said. “So if you are young the chances of dying are very low. “

It is crucial for public health officials to stress the importance of protecting those who cannot be vaccinated or who are immunocompromised, experts said, as there is still limited data on the possibility that immune people are carriers. and spread the virus.

“We have to protect our community,” Troisi said. “It’s about working on those barriers, making it as easy as possible for people to get vaccinated, and doing more research into why people don’t get vaccinated.

Editor-in-chief Laura Garcia contributed to this report.

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