Ineligible people get COVID-19 vaccine ahead of priority groups at Texas event


AUSTIN (KXAN) — A “handful” of ineligible people were able to jump in line during a COVID-19 vaccine mass distribution event over the weekend despite not being in priority groups outlined by the Texas Department of State Health Services, a clinic spokesperson said.

Right now, many vaccine providers are focusing on frontline healthcare workers and residents of long-term care facilities for vaccinations. Those people are considered Phase 1A. People in Phase 1B, including those aged 65 and up and people with chronic medical conditions, are also eligible to receive the vaccine now, pending adequate supply.

The Austin Regional Clinic spokesperson said some people not in Phase 1A or 1B showed up Saturday to receive their first dose during the event. ARC did not require appointments as it usually does during this mass event, which saw 907 vaccinations distributed.

“We recognize the need to refine our process to assure vaccination of prioritized individuals,” read a statement from Austin Regional Clinic.

ARC said it “notified a registered waiting list of over 1,100” people, including first responders, doctors and other healthcare workers. Through a streamlined system, the clinic was able to vaccinate around 150 people per hour.

The prioritization error has caused the clinic to reevaluate its system, and a spokesperson said appointments will now be required at all times, even if another mass distribution event occurs.

The spokesperson also asked for patience as the clinic is working to effectively and quickly disseminate the 7,000 doses it received from the state in December. As of Jan. 5, Austin Regional Clinic has vaccinated more than 5,500 people.

The clinic reported that the rest of its supply would go toward its remaining appointments.

Who is eligible to get the vaccine?

From the Texas Department of State Health Services:

If you are a frontline healthcare worker or resident of a long-term care facility, you are eligible now to receive the vaccine as of Dec. 14. This group is considered Phase 1A.

If you are in Phase 1B, you are also eligible to get the COVID-19 vaccine, depending on availability and the vaccine provider. Vaccine supply remains limited, but more doses will be delivered to providers each week. Phase 1B recipients include:

  • People 65 years of age and older
  • People 16 years of age and older with at least one chronic medical condition that puts them at increased risk for severe illness from the virus that causes COVID-19, such as but not limited to:
    • Cancer
    • Chronic kidney disease
    • COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease)
    • Heart conditions, such as heart failure, coronary artery disease or cardiomyopathies
    • Solid-organ transplantation
    • Obesity and severe obesity (body mass index of 30 kg/m2 or higher)
    • Pregnancy
    • Sickle cell disease
    • Type 2 diabetes mellitus

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