UHS Encourages Students to Sign Up for Vaccine as Texas Opens Qualifications
By Libby Cohen
Reporting Texas TV
AUSTIN, Texas — The Texas Department of State Health Services announced that anyone over the age of 16 is eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine starting this week.
The new qualifications greatly expand who can receive a vaccine in Austin through the University of Texas at Austin, as campus serves as a vaccine hub for the Austin community. Students, faculty and anyone in Austin can sign up for the vaccine online.
University Health Services executive director Terrance Hines said lines and available appointments still stand in the way of immediate vaccination.
“We do ask people to please be patient with us. We are working as fast as we can. Even once you get on the list, it could be several more weeks, even a month or two,” Hines said.
UHS typically inoculates around 11,000 people a week with the Pfizer vaccine. Pfizer is one of three companies that achieved emergency approval from the Food and Drug Administration for use in the United States.
States have slowly expanded the groups of people that are allowed to get vaccinated in order to prioritize the most affected first. In Texas, the elderly, immunocompromised, frontline workers, teachers and people over 50 made up the more than 10 million Texans already vaccinated.
DSHS press officer Lara Anton said Texas is ready to increase vaccinations to all adults at this point. even though hubs are still being told to book high risk patients first.
“They really wanted to make sure that we got the most shots in arms as quickly as possible. and they had already gone through all of the groups that were at the highest risk of severe disease and hospitalization,” Anton said.
While opening the vaccine to all adults, Texas also recently lifted its mask mandate and capacity rules. Even with the decreased requirements, Hines said people should not let up on fighting the virus.
“Vaccines are one more tool, but we still need to have this multilayered approach. We need to continue to social distance. We need to wear masks. We need to get vaccinated when we can, wash our hands, do all of those things,” Hines said.
The Pfizer vaccine is 95% effective and comes in two doses that must be taken 21 days apart from each other. Experts believe a patient is fully vaccinated two weeks after the second dose.
While students and other Austin residents wait for their shots, Hines and other medical experts continue to advocate for safety precautions.
“I would just encourage students to go ahead and fill out the survey, get in the line, be patient with us, but please get vaccinated,” Hines said.
“Until then, and even after you get a vaccine, continue to follow the advice, wear your masks, and social distance. We can all get through this together.”
One UT senior said she cannot wait to get her vaccine.
“I’m excited to get the vaccine because I graduate in a month or a little less than a month and I want my friends and family to be able to all be together in one place safely,” Brooklyn Reynolds said.
She is among the many students who eagerly wait their turn to get vaccinated.
UT senior Brooklyn Reynolds said she can’t wait to get her vaccine at Gregory Gym. (Photo: Libby Cohen)