DSHS initiates Phase 1B of COVID-19 vaccine, expanding eligible to ‘medically vulnerable’ patients

Next phase of vaccinations can begin
Next phase of vaccinations can begin

HOUSTON – The Department of State Health Services has given entities the go-ahead to begin vaccinating people eligible for Phase 1B, after vaccinating as many willing members of Phase 1A.

“IB is the second tier of prioritization that the state of Texas has put out for the way they would like the COVID vaccines to be administered,” said Dr. James McCarthy, the Chief Physician Executive for the Memorial Herman Health System.

According to McCarthy, almost 10,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine have been administered at Memorial Hermann as part of Phase 1A.

“1A was really first-line medical responder’s, not just the doctors in hospitals but their clinic staff and EMS providers,” McCarthy said. “IB is to move into the larger community to start including patients that we consider medically vulnerable.”

Phase 1B includes:

  • People 65 years of age and older
  • People 16 years of age and older with at least one chronic medical condition that puts them at increased risk for severe illness from the virus that causes COVID-19, such as but not limited to: Cancer, Chronic kidney disease, COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), Heart conditions, such as heart failure, coronary artery disease or cardiomyopathies, Solid-organ transplantation, Obesity and severe obesity (body mass index of 30 kg/m2 or higher), Pregnancy, Sickle cell disease and Type 2 diabetes mellitus.

“What the state has said is we don’t have to wait until we have every 1A individual classified as long as we are still getting them vaccinated,” McCarthy said.

McCarthy said Memorial Hermann could open up for Phase 1B as early as next week but said they are still working on how those eligible will be identified.

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