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'Definitely a supply issue' | Austin health officials say we don't have enough COVID-19 vaccines

"We don't have what we need. It is definitely a supply issue," APH Director Stephanie Hayden said.

AUSTIN, Texas — In a briefing with the Travis County Commissioners Court on Tuesday, Austin Public Health (APH) Director Stephanie Hayden shed some light on how the City is handling the COVID-19 vaccine distribution. 

Hayden said in the meeting that there are not enough vaccine doses to administer widely to the community when compared to the state and county population. She said there has been 789,925 doses in the state and 42,000 doses among 59 providers in Travis County allocated to date. 

"We don't have what we need. It is definitely a supply issue," Hayden said.

With the inclusion of category 1B, which allows those over 65 years old or over 16 years old with at least one chronic medical condition, Hayden said that includes "the majority of people in Travis County." She said it's important for people to know there isn't enough vaccines to meet the demand.

RELATED: Austin area expected to reach ICU capacity before mid-January, APH says

Hayden said they hope to get more vendors in Travis County to help administer the vaccine. According to the presentation from the meeting, providers must be approved by the State; must follow requirements and recommendations; must comply with CDC requirements for cold chain storage and management; must report dose usage within 24 hours to the State's health system; must account for doses administered, wasted, lost, expired, etc.; and must report adverse events.

As more vaccine doses become available, Hayden said APH would prioritize them for those who do not have access to a vaccine provider in efforts to address equity gaps in vaccine administration. Specifically, APH would focus on populations disproportionately affected: populations of color, those living in poverty, those living in areas where disease transmission is highest, and those without transportation access.

RELATED: Austin-area Black leaders call for action on vaccine strategy

"It is going to be very important for us to focus on the hardest hit in our communities by focusing in on communities of color, low-income and older adults," Hayden said.

Public Safety Wellness and APH are among the 59 vendors distributing the vaccine, according to Hayden. Public Safety Wellness and APH have received 1,300 doses each. 

Here is how they have their distribution focused: 

Public Safety Wellness

  • Focused on 1A EMS and AFD qualifying staff
  • Focused on 1B APD qualifying staff

Austin Public Health 

  • Focused on 1A direct health care staff, COVID-19 response staff, Travis County jail clinical staff, LTCF staff not enrolled with a vaccine provider, hospice and home health care staff, and school nurses
  • Remaining doses will be distributed this week

In phase 3 of vaccine distribution, the goal is for everyone who wants a vaccine to get access to a vaccine provider, according to the presentation given by Hayden. 

Hayden said APH hopes to have a preregistration portal ready by next week. 

You can view Hayden's full slideshow here.


Dr. Mark Escott with Austin Public Health also said in the commissioner's court meeting that he expects the Austin area is likely to exceed its 200 ICU hospital bed capacity before Jan. 15. 

Dr. Escott's slideshow can be viewed here.


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