Officials say that made the decision because vaccine supplies are expected to increase next week and providers in multiple parts of the state have made great strides in vaccinating people in the current priority groups.
The Expert Vaccine Allocation Panel in Texas recommended opening vaccination to everyone who falls under the current Food and Drug Administration emergency use authorizations to protect as many Texans as possible.
"We are closing in on 10 million doses administered in Texas, and we want to keep up the momentum as the vaccine supply increases," said Imelda Garcia, DSHS associate commissioner for laboratory and infectious disease services and the chair of the Expert Vaccine Allocation Panel, in a news release. "As eligibility opens up, we are asking providers to continue to prioritize people who are the most at risk of severe disease, hospitalization, and death – such as older adults."
DSHS has directed vaccine providers to prioritize people 80 years old or older when scheduling appointments and accommodate anyone in that age group who presents for vaccination, whether or not they have an appointment, by immediately moving them to the front of the line. That will ensure vaccination of anyone 80 or older with as small a burden on themselves as possible.
Officials are also launching a website to allow people to register for a shot through some public health providers. The public will be able to enroll in the Texas Public Health Vaccine Scheduler to identify upcoming vaccine clinics hosted by DSHS or a participating local health department and be notified when new clinics and appointments become available. People can continue to find additional providers through the DSHS Vaccine Information page.
For those who are unable to enroll online, DSHS will launch a toll-free number to provide assistance making an appointment with a participating provider or locating another provider that has vaccines available.
DSHS says that Texas has administered more than 9.3 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine, equating to more than six million people with at least one dose and more than three million fully vaccinated.