AUSTIN, Texas (AP) – A Houston hospital system plans to start vaccinating workers from outside its own buildings with its next phase of shots as the coronavirus continues its surge in Texas and beyond.
The recently approved Moderna vaccines arrived Wednesday in Houston. That cleared the path for healthcare officials at Houston’s Memorial Hermann Health System to begin scheduling appointments for first responders, community pharmacists and school nurses who were not included in the initial rollout of shots.
Those over the age of 65 or older than 16 and suffering of at least one chronic medical condition will also be eligible.
Texas didn’t follow all the new federal guidelines for distributing the COVID-19 vaccine. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued new guidelines over the weekend to prioritize those aged 75 and older and front-line essential workers in phase 2 of the rollout.
Local leaders have warned Texans to avoid travel ahead of the holiday weekend to reduce spread of the virus through large gatherings.
Texas has seen the second highest COVID-19 death count in the country overall, with 26,406 COVID-19 related deaths to date, according to researchers from Johns Hopkins. The state currently ranks 34th in the country for new cases per capita as the rolling average number of daily new cases has increased by 1,721 over the past two weeks. One in every 252 people in Texas tested positive in the past week.