The state of Texas is moving up the timetable for those 50-64 years old can get their coronavirus vaccines starting on March 15.
The move was announced on Wednesday by the Texas Department of State Health Services, and comes as new vaccines are coming onto the market. A fourth vaccine, this one made by AstraZeneca, is in review for emergency approval.
DSHS said more than 93% of the Texas fatalities directly caused by the coronavirus have been in people 50 and older, with those ages 50 to 64 accounting for 20% of all fatalities. By including this next most vulnerable group, Texas will continue to reduce the number of people who are hospitalized and die from the disease across all races, ethnicities and occupations.
“We’ve seen a remarkable decrease in the number of hospitalizations and deaths since people 65 and older started becoming fully vaccinated in January,” said Imelda Garcia, DSHS associate commissioner for laboratory and infectious disease services and chair of the Expert Vaccine Allocation Panel. “Expanding to ages 50 to 64 will continue the state’s priorities of protecting those at the greatest risk of severe outcomes and preserving the state’s health care system.”
More than half of all Texas seniors have gotten at least one dose of vaccine, and 30 percent are now fully vaccinated. The number of COVID-19 positive patients in Texas hospitals has fallen by two-thirds from its peak in mid-January. There are about 5 million Texans between the ages of 50 and 64; more than 1 million of them are already vaccinated.