AUSTIN, Texas — The delta variant is officially in Travis county as of this week, but even before that, Austin Public Health was ramping up efforts to get more people vaccinated. Now they say this work is even more important.
On Saturday, July 17, APH held a vaccination event where they were administering Pfizer shots at Turner Roberts Recreation Center in Colony Park.
“So right now, the vaccine is widely available to the whole community,” said APH Emergency Plans Officer Ana Urueta. “And we're now reaching a point that it's not so much about access, but about vaccine hesitancy."
Just a few months ago people were lining up to get their COVID-19 vaccines, but now Austin Public Health said they are trying to reach the 30% of people who still haven't gotten the shot.
"So I think a lot of the times hesitancy is linked to people thinking that they have to pay for it,” explained Urueta. “And also, maybe they think that they have to provide documentation, but they don't. We don't ask for any legal documents or anything of that sort."
Urueta said all you have to bring to a vaccine event is yourself. She said that it is more important now than ever to get the vaccine, with the delta variant now confirmed in Travis County.
"We know that it is in our community and we know that the vaccine is safe and effective against that variant and other variants,” said Urueta.
According to the Austin-Travis County Health Authority, the seven-day average for COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations have both tripled.
"We know that the hospitalization rate is going up,” said Urueta. “And based on preliminary data, the folks that are getting hospitalized are mostly unvaccinated."
Since the start of 2021, there have been over 35,000 cases of COVID-19 in Travis County. At a Travis County Commissioners Court meeting this week, they shared that of all those cases, only 333 of the people infected were vaccinated.
Another issue APH is seeing is people not coming back for their second shot.
“It is extremely vital that you come back and get your second dose, as it is proven to be an effective way to protect you against the delta variant,” said Urueta. “So it’s very, very important to go back and get your second dose once it's due."
Austin Public Health leaders are putting a focus on reaching low-income communities, which they said is where fewer people are vaccinated. They are also encouraging parents to get their kids, who are 12 and older, vaccinated before school starts.
Austin Public Health has a list of vaccine events on its website. You can also call 311 to find a vaccination location near you.
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