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Texas joins states making COVID-19 vaccinations available to all adults

Woman receiving COVID-19 shot in Houston
A woman receives a Pfizer COVID-19 shot during a vaccination drive for education workers Tuesday in Houston.
(David J. Phillip / Associated Press)

Texas is becoming the most populous state to expand COVID-19 vaccination eligibility to all adults, more than a month before President Biden’s goal of making the shots available to anyone who wants one by May 1.

The announcement by state health officials Tuesday adds Texas to the rapidly growing list of states that are making the vaccine available to all adults. The drastic expansion for Texas’ nearly 30 million residents will begin Monday.

“We are closing in on 10 million doses administered in Texas, and we want to keep up the momentum as the vaccine supply increases,” said Imelda Garcia, chairwoman of the state’s Expert Vaccine Allocation Panel.

Texas has one of the nation’s slowest vaccination rates. Roughly 10% of the state’s population had been fully vaccinated as of Tuesday, and about 22% had received at least one dose, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

State officials have blamed the numbers on February’s blackouts from a deadly winter storm and contended that federal officials have used outdated census data to determine Texas’ allocation of doses.

For the last two weeks, Texas has been the nation’s largest state with no coronavirus restrictions after Republican Gov. Greg Abbott repealed a controversial mask mandate and lifted limits on restaurant and retail occupancy. Hospitalizations in Texas have plummeted to their lowest levels since October, but local health officials say they are again watching the numbers closely after spring break last week.

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A growing number of California’s health departments have broken with state guidelines and made COVID-19 vaccines available to more people, sparking joy from some and envy among others.

Texas reported more than 4,200 new coronavirus cases Tuesday, but the rolling average number of daily new cases has decreased by almost 2,200 over the past two weeks, a 36% drop, according to Johns Hopkins University.

COVID-19 has killed more than 47,000 people in Texas, the third-highest state toll in the nation.

Alaska was the first state to open up vaccine eligibility to all adults, and others are now rushing to do the same, including Tennessee and Missouri.


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