Texas will ignore the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s guidance on who should receive the coronavirus vaccine first, opting to provide doses for the elderly before essential workers.
Texas will allow residents age 65 or older to receive the vaccine before frontline workers like police, food and agricultural workers, school staff including teachers, and public transit employees, among others.
“The focus on people who are age 65 and older or who have comorbidities will protect the most vulnerable populations,” Imelda Garcia, who chairs the state’s Expert Vaccine Allocation Panel and is associate commissioner for the Texas Department of State Health Services’ Division for Laboratory and Infectious Disease Services, told CNBC. “This approach ensures that Texans at the most severe risk from COVID-19 can be protected across races and ethnicities and regardless of where they work.”
Dr. Jen Kates, the Kaiser Family Foundation’s senior vice president and director of global health and HIV policy, said that the change isn’t unreasonable, though it is a substantial deviation, and that she expects other states to make similar adjustments.
“It’s not really about right or wrong, but it is about state values,” she said.
“Texas has clearly come down on the side of, ‘we’re going to focus on those who are at greatest risk of illness and death,'” Kates continued. “Basically, it creates a different order for the line, and people are going to have different access, relatively speaking, based on where they live.”
She added, “Agricultural workers have little protection and have suffered disproportionately, but in this schema that Texas is using [they] will not be at the front of the line. It sends a signal.”