Finally, Austin restaurant, grocery store, and service workers will be eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine starting on Monday, March 29. This isn’t because of a targeted focus on these essential worker groups; rather the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) is opening up the vaccination supply to all adults in Texas that week, as it announced today.
Right now, only Texans in the phase 1a, b, and c groups are allowed to get the vaccine — health care workers, people residing in long-care facilities, people who are older than 50 years old, those 16 years and older with underlying conditions, teachers, and child care workers.
Only 11 percent of the state’s population has been vaccinated as of Sunday, March 21, as reported by Texas Tribune. However, the process of booking vaccine appointments has been frustrating for many as those in the eligibility groups still haven’t received the shot.
The state agency says that it is expanding eligibility because it’s expecting an increase in doses in the coming weeks. The agency adds that it will still be prioritizing older and high-risk people.
Austin service workers, restaurant owners, and chefs raised concerns regarding Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s decision to reopen businesses fully without any social distancing requirements or masks as of March 2, without first allowing restaurant, bar, and hospitality workers to access vaccines. Several service worker groups held a rally the day before the state reopened calling on Texas Gov. Greg Abbott to pause reopening until 70 percent of essential workers were vaccinated.
Currently, the numbers of Texas COVID-19 cases and related hospitalizations are as low as they were during October 2020.