AUSTIN, Texas — Travis County has continued to outpace the rest of the Lone Star State in terms of COVID-19 vaccination rates, according to Austin health leaders.
In Tuesday's Austin City Council-Travis County Commissioners Court joint COVID-19 meeting, interim Austin Public Health (APH) Director Adrienne Sturrup said 80.28% of Travis County residents had received the first dose of the vaccine, while 70.03% were fully vaccinated.
The statewide numbers for vaccinated Texans are 70.83% for one dose and 60.32% for both doses. Health leaders reiterated that getting the vaccine is the best defense against COVID-19.
"Vaccines are still the answer," said Dr. Desmar Walkes, Austin's medical director and health authority.
Walkes said during the meeting that COVID-19 cases and positivity rates are declining. Walkes said projections from UT's COVID-19 Modeling Consortium showed a decline for hospital admissions in the Austin-Round Rock MSA moving forward. She said the after-effects of Labor Day and school opening seemed to not have impacted it too much.
The Austin-Round Rock MSA COVID-19 hospitalization data shows that the 70-plus age group hasn't been as impacted by the delta variant, according to Walkes. However, she said there has been a significant increase in hospitalizations for people between the ages of 30 and 49.
"Vaccinations have had a good impact to protect our senior citizens," said Walkes.
The total Travis County vaccine-eligible population (12 years old and older) is 1,092,827, according to APH. Of those, nearly 215,749 (20%) remain unvaccinated.
Sturrup said despite the excitement of reaching the 70% countywide vaccination milestone, the data that gives her pause are the lower numbers for the Black and Hispanic populations.
"We will continue to work with our partners across the county, investing in grassroots organizations ... thinking about our communications and our focus outreach so that we can close the gap in those communities," Sturrup said.
APH data showed 40.58% of Black vaccine eligible residents in Travis County have received one dose and 34.22% are fully vaccinated. The data showed 56.87% of Hispanic vaccine-eligible residents in Travis County have received one dose and 47.08% are fully vaccinated.
Vaccinating the younger populations is another aspect local leaders are ready to tackle in the near future.
"We've already started thinking about what the pediatric rollout will be," said Sturrup.
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