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Bioscience-Medicine

A Million Texans Will Be Vaccinated Against COVID-19 By The End Of The Month, Abbott Says

UT-Austin football athletic trainer Johnnathan Tran receives the COVID-19 vaccine Pfizer BioNTech during injections to healthcare workers at Dell Medical School on Dec. 15, 2020. (Gabriel C. Pérez/KUT News)
UT-Austin football athletic trainer Johnnathan Tran receives the COVID-19 vaccine Pfizer BioNTech during injections to healthcare workers at Dell Medical School on Dec. 15, 2020. (Gabriel C. Pérez/KUT News)

Thousands of doses of the COVID-19 vaccine are currently being distributed throughout the state, Gov. Greg Abbott said Thursday.

During a news conference at a UPS center in Austin, Abbott said Texas has already delivered 95,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine. He said an additional 129,000 doses will be distributed on Thursday alone.

Texas, like other states, gets a weekly allotment of the vaccine. Abbott said those allotments are going to increase now that federal officials have also approved the Moderna vaccine.

"Next week when we have not just the Pfizer vaccine but the Moderna vaccine, that will allow us to [get] well over a million people ... vaccinated just in the state of Texas alone, just this month," he said.

About 110 hospitals across the state have gotten shipments of the vaccine. Frontline workers in hospitals treating COVID-19 patients are the first in line to be vaccinated.

In the coming weeks, Abbott said, distribution of the vaccine will expand to health care centers, clinics, pharmacies, freestanding emergency rooms and urgent care centers. He said long-term care facilities should be receiving the vaccines later this month.

The first round of vaccinations comes as Texas is seeing a massive surge in cases. There are currently more than 1.3 million confirmed COVID-19 cases in the state and about 9,500 people are hospitalized with the virus. As of Wednesday, 9,528 Texans had died from the virus.

Dr. John Hellerstedt, commissioner of the Texas Department of State Health Services, said these initial rounds of vaccines aren’t yet enough to address the significant rise in cases.

“We don’t need not just a million vaccinations, but hundreds of millions of vaccinations,” he said Thursday. “And that’s going to occur in the coming weeks and months.”

Experts have estimated most of the public won’t be vaccinated until late spring or summer of next year. Abbott said as more vaccines come on line, he anticipates widespread vaccination could happen sooner rather than later.

In the meantime, Abbott said he won’t consider further restrictions aimed at curbing the spread of the virus.

“We will not have any more shutdowns in Texas,” he said.

Hellerstedt urged Texans to continue wearing masks and physically distance in the coming months, because the virus will remain a serious health concern despite more people getting vaccinated.

“This is the ray of hope at the end of the tunnel,” he said, “but this is not done yet.”

Got a tip? Email Ashley Lopez at alopez@kut.org. Follow her on Twitter @AshLopezRadio.

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