DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – With the arrival of a second vaccine in Texas, the focus of many health providers has shifted to who will gain access after healthcare workers and long term care facility residents.
Texas announced Monday, Dec. 21, it will deviate from a federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendation in implementing the next phase, “Phase 1B.”
The CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) Sunday voted to recommend it include: adults 75 and older; and frontline essential works, such as police officers, teachers, and grocery store clerks.
The decision was a compromise between prioritizing those most likely to be exposed and those most at risk of dying.
States, though, aren’t obligated to follow the CDC recommendation.
The Texas Department of State Health Services says, it will take a different approach, prioritizing adults 65 and older and anyone over 16 years old with certain high risk health conditions.
“A higher percentage of that population die of the virus, so you want to get the vaccine first to those with the greatest needs and the greatest risk,” said State Representative Stephanie Klick in an interview earlier this month.
Rep. Klick sits on the state’s Expert Vaccine Allocation Panel, which came up with the state’s criteria.
ACIP members considered some of the challenges of the state’s approach: difficulty confirming who has a high-risk medical condition and the size of such a large group.
It would also leave out essential workers – like teachers – who are regularly exposed to others.
“They’ll be really disappointed that they’re not included because they are on the frontlines. They have put themselves at risk going into the campuses every single day,” said Rena Honea, president of the ATF Alliance, which represents Dallas ISD teachers.
DSHS says, the most vulnerable of those essential workers, those who are older or who have certain medical conditions, will have early access through its plan. In all, it estimates about 8 million Texans fit its criteria for Phase 1B.
It also says it will likely be at least a few weeks before we enter that phase.
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