Photo by Gabriel C. Pérez/KUT News
Monday, October 26, 2020 by Marisa Charpentier, KUT

Austin Public Health launches coalition to prepare for future Covid-19 vaccine distribution

Austin Public Health is gearing up for when a Covid-19 vaccine becomes available.

The health authority announced Friday the launch of the Covid-19 Vaccine Distribution Coalition, a group of health care and community partners that will help APH develop strategies for distributing the vaccine.

“Slowing the spread of Covid-19 in Austin-Travis County has been a community effort since the beginning,” APH Director Stephanie Hayden said in a press release. “Planning for the distribution of a Covid-19 vaccine will once again require many stakeholders and a community effort to be successful. We still have a long road ahead of us, but the Covid-19 Vaccine Distribution Coalition marks the beginning of a new chapter in our response.”

There is no authorized Covid-19 vaccine yet, but several are being developed. While a vaccine could be approved by the end of the year, state health officials say it likely won’t be widely available to Texans until well into 2021.

When vaccines are available, the supply is expected to be limited at first, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That means critical groups, like essential workers and those at the highest risk of developing severe illness from Covid-19, will be first in line to receive the vaccine.

“As a community, we need to recognize that even when a vaccine becomes available, initially it will not be widely available for the general public,” Dr. Mark Escott, interim Austin-Travis County health authority, said in a press release. “We will need to prioritize our most vulnerable and ensure equitable distribution across our community.”

Austin’s vaccine coalition will be tasked with identifying these critical populations, strategizing ways to store and distribute the vaccine and developing community messaging efforts.

This story was produced as part of the Austin Monitor’s reporting partnership with KUT.

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