COVID-19 One Year Later - 03/14/21 - Segment 2
BROOKE KATZ: One of the biggest developments in the last week regarding the vaccine is the expansion of who is eligible for a shot in Texas. The state announced on Wednesday that people 50 years and older are now eligible, and it adds to a growing list that included teachers and child care workers the week before.
Phase 1B be started with vaccinating people 65 and older and others with certain medical conditions. Phase 1A, which launched in December, targeted health care workers and long-term care facility, residents and staff. The Texas Department of State health services talked on Thursday about the decision to expand.
IMELDA GARCIA: And the simple reason is that when we looked at the epidemiological data, this group bears a significant risk of severe disease, hospitalizations, and death. 20% of the death in Texas throughout the pandemic have occurred in people aged 50 to 64, and when you add people 65 and older, the combined group accounts for over 93% of all COVID-related deaths.
That's a really big number, so I'm going to say it again. When we add that to the people 65 and older, the combined age group account for over 93% of all COVID-related deaths. So as members of the expert panel, everyone felt very strongly that following the evidence, following the data, and adding this group next, does the most to protect Texans from the worst of COVID-19.
We debated and discussed this next eligible group for several weeks, looking at API key recommendations, looking at our Texas data, and at the end of the day, the data is overwhelmingly clear that people 50 to 64 are the next group with the highest risk for death. So opening up vaccination for this group next will continue to reduce the number of deaths we're seeing across the state, and help relieve the strain on our hospitals and the rest of the health care system.
This is a good time for us to make this transition, because more than half of people 65 and up, about 53%, have gotten at least one dose of the vaccine, and we're approaching nearly one third fully-vaccinated.
BROOKE KATZ: Well, those 50 and older are eligible to be vaccinated starting Monday, March 15th. At least one medical professional welcome the news of expanding who can get a dose.
JOSEPH CHANG: The faster we can get people vaccinated, the better. I think 50 is the next logical line. The reason we say that is, of course, as contained in the governor's statement, over 90% of Texans that have gotten COVID and died from COVID, are over the age of 50. It's only logical for us to target those most vulnerable to severe consequences.
There are a lot of ways to cut up this pie. There are a lot of ways to cut up our population. Say, OK, do we do it by profession? Do we do it by age? We do it by living quarters, or whatever? There are a lot of ways to think about it, but in the end what we do know about this disease is that it does hit those who are older harder. It does hit those with pre-existing conditions harder. And so, it really is a very logical and healthy way to split up the population. So I think using age as the primary determiner-- it makes a whole lot of sense.
BROOKE KATZ: As the state opens up eligibility for more people to get the vaccine, Tarrant County leaders are pushing more people to simply sign up.
GLEN WHITLEY: Key thing that I want everybody to take away from this is everybody needs to be registering now. We're not just interested in 1A or 1B or teachers or child care workers. We want everybody to register, because I truly believe that in the coming weeks, we're going to be inundated with vaccines. And we need to get those in people's arms, and so we're going to need a much larger pool from which to pull, to be able to get people vaccinated.
So if you have a tendency to talk to people or if you do these things, please encourage everyone to register. And they don't have to just register in Tarrant County. They can register in the surrounding counties, or they can register in the Tom Thumbs, or the CVSes, or Kroger to get in. Because we have probably 50 different small store type locations that got the vaccine this week, and most of those are like 100 and 200 vaccines, but they're the Johnson & Johnson vaccines. So they're the one-shot vaccine.
- If you are going to open us up 100%, we need to at least be allowed to make the appointment to go choose to get a vaccine.
BROOKE KATZ: Restaurant and workplace groups protested last week outside the state Capitol in Austin. The groups wanted to see 70% of essential workers in Texas vaccinated before the state reopened at 100% last Wednesday. A member of the AFL-CIO is critical of opening the vaccine to people 50 and over, and not essential workers.
RICK LEVY: Expanding access to vaccines is great for everybody, you know, that's our way out of this. And so, certainly, the more people that get vaccines the better it is for everybody. But just doing it on the basis of age feels to me like it's missing a really important piece, which is we have folks that have been literally putting their lives on the line every day to keep this state running.
Whether it's the folks in the grocery stores, the folks who transport us, there folks who teach us, folks who build our buildings, etc, who have been out there every day working. We call them essential, we call them heroes. It seems to me that if there's an expansion of access to vaccines, that we ought to start with the folks who have really sacrificed for us so much.
So that's our position, is that great-- more vaccines is great. But let's honor the folks who have put their lives on the line every day by putting them first. Our ideal request is that folks who are essential workers, front-line workers, we, number one, we identify who they are, and we use our resources available to get them vaccinated. --to get them the protective equipment that they still don't have enough, to implement safety standards at work so everybody's clear what the rules are in an establishment. That it's not up to the clerk to decide whether they're going to enforce the laws of the state of Texas.
We need clarity from the top. We need attention to working people's lives. And we need it now.
BROOKE KATZ: Next, we get to the point on the plan to reopen Texas, and a lot of eyes are going to be on Arlington after plans are revealed to open Globe Life Field at 100% for baseball. The mayor's plan to make sure it is a safe experience next.