Governor Greg Abbott and the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) have announced the guiding principles for the state’s COVID-19 vaccine distribution process.
The guidelines, according to Abbott, will serve as the foundation for the state’s initial allocation of vaccines, which his office says are expected as early as next month.
These principles were established by the Expert Vaccine Allocation Panel (EVAP), which includes State Senator Lois Kolkhorst. The EVAP was created by DSHS to make recommendations on vaccine allocation decisions, including identifying groups that should be vaccinated first to provide the most protection to vulnerable populations and critical state resources.
Texas will initially allocate COVID-19 vaccines based on the following criteria:
- Protecting health care workers who fill a critical role in caring for and preserving the lives of COVID-19 patients and maintaining the health care infrastructure for all who need it.
- Protecting frontline workers who are at greater risk of contracting COVID-19 due to the nature of their work providing critical services and preserving the economy.
- Protecting vulnerable populations who are at greater risk of severe disease and death if they contract COVID-19.
- Mitigating health inequities due to factors such as demographics, poverty, insurance status and geography.
- Data-driven allocations using the best available scientific evidence and epidemiology at the time, allowing for flexibility for local conditions.
- Geographic diversity through a balanced approach that considers access in urban and rural communities and in affected ZIP codes.
- Transparency through sharing allocations with the public and seeking public feedback.
Under these guidelines, health care and frontline workers and the most vulnerable populations will be immunized first.
The EVAP will make recommendations on how and when to roll out the vaccine to other critical groups.