Hojun Choi | Austin American-Statesman
Austin Public Health officials on Wednesday said they have received a supply of COVID-19 vaccines for second doses, and urged patience from those looking to get vaccinated from the agency.
Local health authorities on Monday had said the delivery of 12,000 second doses of COVID-19 vaccine was delayed. Officials said they received the doses on Tuesday, and have started contacting and making appointments with people who got their first dose through the week of Jan. 11 from Austin Public Health.
“APH has started contacting those people by email or phone with information on second dose appointments. Staff will work through the weekend to continue scheduling. Appointments are required for both doses and walk-ups will not be accepted,” officials said in a written statement Wednesday.
Race to the vaccine: A COVID-19 vaccine life cycle: from DNA to doses
Both the Moderna and Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines — which the Texas Department of State Health Services has been distributing to local health authorities — require two shots.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has said that the recommended interval between first and second doses of the Moderna vaccine is 28 days. For the Pfizer vaccine, that interval is 21 days, according to the FDA.
Austin public health officials said second doses for both versions of the COVID-19 vaccine can be administered up to six weeks after the first, pointing to recent guidance released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“When a physician prescribes medication, it typically requires you to take it on a stringent timeline, that is not the case with the COVID-19 booster shots,” Interim Austin-Travis County Health Authority Dr. Mark Escott said in a written statement. “There is some flexibility allowed between doses without diminishing efficacy.”
Officials said more than 580,000 people have created an account on Austin Public Health’s online COVID-19 vaccine registration portal as of Tuesday, adding that about 286,000 of those were pre-registrations.
Tracking COVID-19 vaccine distribution by state: How many people have been vaccinated in the US?
Health authorities said 181,000 of the people who pre-registered to receive a dose of the vaccine were eligible to receive a dose under the state’s definition of Phase 1A and 1B vaccinations, but did not have a first-dose appointment with Austin Public Health.
Pointing to a limited supply of vaccines, local health officials said people who have not gotten a first dose may have to wait to make appointments.
“We want to address the anxiety and frustration about second doses by assuring everyone that we are working diligently to get booster shots scheduled and administered as soon as we have them delivered,” Austin Public Health Director Stephanie Hayden-Howard said in a written statement.
Local health officials on Monday launched a new online dashboard for COVID-19 vaccinations administered by Austin Public Health. The dashboard will be updated weekly, officials said.
As of Friday, health officials reported that 37,258 COVID-19 vaccine doses had been administered by Austin Public Health, adding that all but 41 of those were first doses.
According to an online COVID-19 vaccine dashboard from state health officials, which tracks all doses administered in the area — not just those from Austin Public Health, 96,556 people in Travis County have received at least one dose of the vaccine. Of those, 34,685 have been fully vaccinated, according to state health officials.
More than 700 people in the Austin-Travis County area have now died from coronavirus-related complications, according to local health authorities. Officials on Wednesday also reported 347 new cases, bringing the total case count for the area to 72,972.