APH Immunization Program anticipates vaccine demand will outpace previous expansions
UPDATE: After today’s uptick, Austin Public Health (APH) Immunization Program anticipates demand for the pediatric vaccine will exceed the demand experienced when eligibility expanded to 5-to 11-year-olds earlier this spring (even though this population is smaller). After expanded eligibility in May, staff at Old Sims Gymnasium administered 15 doses to 5-to 11-year-olds within the first week, but in just two days, staff has already vaccinated 173 toddlers and babies at the clinic.
In response to these new trends, APH will keep the doors open at Old Sims Gymnasium and reassess the need to continue operations at the clinic weekly to ensure efficient use of resources.
Throughout this response, APH’s highly trained staff continues to observe existing trends to prepare and pivot efforts if necessary. While most children in Travis County get their vaccines from physicians’ offices, our teams are prepared to fill in the gaps until supply is more widely available.
AUSTIN, Texas – After a year and a half of operating mass vaccine clinics for hundreds of thousands of people, Austin Public Health (APH) will close the last mass vaccine clinic to dedicate additional resources to continuing a community-focused approach.
"We mobilized large-scale clinics in as little as 24 hours in areas historically known to have limited access to healthcare," said APH Director Adrienne Sturrup. "Then after providing first doses to thousands, staff turned around operations and did it again for the second dose. I couldn't be prouder to be part of such a dedicated team whose hard work is still not done."
The Old Sims Elementary Gymnasium vaccine clinic’s last day of operations is Saturday, June 25.
The Mobile Vaccination Program (MVP) will continue operations and businesses, churches and other community groups are encouraged to cohost pop-up clinics. Fill out an online form or call 3-1-1 to request these services.
The Old Sims Elementary Gymnasium vaccine clinic is one of 12 total APH mass vaccination sites that were stood up throughout Travis County. Early on in the rollout, vaccine administrators nationwide were required to follow eligibility criteria which allotted the limited supply to front-line workers, healthcare staff and long-term care facilities. By mid-February 2020, the State of Texas designated APH as one of its mass vaccine hubs expanding its role as a safety net provider for residents without insurance to serving all in the Central Texas area and beyond.
Even as a hub, APH still focused local resources on zip codes with low vaccination rates among eligible populations through the MVP, which offers COVID-19 vaccines at locations in otherwise hard-to-reach areas.
More than 74% of Travis County’s previously eligible population (ages 5+) is fully vaccinated against COVID-19. That same population is also eligible for a booster dose. The CDC recommends an additional booster for adults 50 and older.
"Our community’s effort to get vaccinated and protect themselves from COVID-19 has been invaluable in lowering the spread of COVID-19, preventing severe disease, hospitalizations and complications such as long COVID, diabetes or heart problems," said Dr. Desmar Walkes, Austin-Travis County Health Authority. "The MVP will help us to reach those who are still in need of that protection."
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) now recommends that all children 6 months through 5 years of age should receive a COVID-19 vaccine.
Historically, most children in Travis County get their vaccines from pharmacies or doctors’ offices but APH’s highly trained staff continues efforts to fill in the gaps by serving at-risk and underserved populations using its Shots for Tots clinics and through the MVP. APH recently received Exemplary Provider status for Immunization and Testing Services by The Compliance Team.
These achievements were possible thanks to the hard work and dedication of APH staff, county and city support, and community partners.
Travis County continues to hold daily pop-up vaccine clinics throughout the county. A list of those clinics can be found online.
APH encourages testing before and after gatherings, especially if you plan to be in close contact with individuals who are at risk. APH's Metz Elementary testing site (84 Robert T. Martinez Jr. St., Austin, TX 78702) is still open providing free PCR tests and rapid antigen tests.
A third round of free mail-order COVID-19 test kits is available through the federal government.
Find vaccine providers using Vaccines.gov (Vacunas.gov in Spanish) or by texting your zip code to 438829 (822862 in Spanish) to find a nearby clinic.