AUSTIN, Texas — On Monday, Gov. Greg Abbot and the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) announced guiding principles for the state's coronavirus vaccine allocation process, which are meant to serve as a foundation for Texas' initial distribution of the vaccines as early as next month.
The principles were established by the Expert Vaccine Allocation Panel (EVAP), which was created by the DSHS to make recommendations on COVID-19 vaccine allocation decisions, including identifying the groups that should receive the vaccine first to provide the most protection to vulnerable populations and critical state resources.
"These guiding principles established by the Expert Vaccine Allocation Panel will ensure that the State of Texas swiftly distributes the COVID-19 vaccine to Texans who voluntarily choose to be immunized," said Gov. Abbott. "This foundation for the allocation process will help us mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in our communities, protect the most vulnerable Texans, and safeguard crucial state resources."
Initial allocation criteria includes:
- 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.
Other criteria include:
- 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.
According to a press release from Gov. Abbott's office, EVAP has recommended, and the Commissioner of Health John Hellerstedt has approved, health care workers likely to provide direct care for COVID-19 patients and other vulnerable residents to be the first group to receive the vaccine. This includes staff at hospitals and long-term care facilities, emergency medical services and home health care workers. EVAP will also make recommendations on how and when to start distributing vaccines to other critical groups.
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