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The COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Plan in Texas

  • En español | Texans age 65 and older are now eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccines produced by Pfizer and Moderna, but they're not in the first priority group. That means vaccines for the 65-plus are subject to availability.

  • Front-line healthcare workers and long-term care residents are in the first priority group, known as Phase 1A, and have been receiving vaccines for weeks. Texans age 65-plus are in the second group, known as Phase 1B.

  • Visit the COVID‑19 Vaccination Hub Providers page to find and register for a hub.

  • Vaccine news is changing quickly. Check this guide for updates in days ahead. 

    When can older adults get the vaccine?   

    Now, if a vaccine provider has enough supply. Because initial vaccine supplies are limited, doses are being allocated and administered via a multiphased distribution plan that prioritizes critical populations. For most older adults outside of Phase 1A, getting vaccinated is still a major challenge.

    COVID-19 Hospital Admissions On The Rise As The Christmas Holiday Approaches
    A health care worker prepares a COVID-19 vaccine at a clinic in Houston.
    Go Nakamura/Getty Images

    That first priority group, 1A, includes health care workers and residents of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities. Phase 1B includes people 65 and older and people 16 and older with at least one chronic medical condition that puts them at increased risk for severe illness from the virus that causes COVID-19, such as cancer, chronic kidney disease, heart conditions or obesity.   

    All members of Phase 1A are now eligible to receive a vaccine. Members of Phase 1B are also eligible, but securing a vaccine depends on whether a provider has enough supply. It may take several weeks for some providers to acquire enough vaccines to start administering them to members of Phase 1B. There are almost 4 million adults who are 65 years and older in Texas, according to the state’s interim COVID-19 Vaccination Plan. As of Jan. 12, Texas has only received just over 2 million vaccine doses, according to the state’s COVID-19 vaccination dashboard.

    The best estimate of when vaccines will become available to the general public is springtime, according to the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS). But that could change. The state’s Expert Vaccine Allocation Panel (EVAP) is considering what criteria should be used for later stages of vaccine distribution. 

    AARP is fighting for older Americans to be prioritized in getting one of the COVID-19 vaccines because the science shows that older people are at higher risk of death from the coronavirus.

    Where can I get a vaccine?  

    The state is encouraging those in Phase 1B to visit one of the state’s new vaccine hubs, which “aim to provide more vaccines quicker and easier," according to the DSHS. Visit the COVID‑19 Vaccination Hub Providers page to find and register for a hub. Depending on the provider, you may be placed on a waitlist and contacted via phone, e-mail or text when vaccines become available. The state is asking people to not just show up at a hub. Call or check the hub providers page to see if a hub is accepting walk-ins.

    Eligible Texans can also check the Texas COVID-19 Vaccine Availability map to find alternate vaccine providers. Check the provider’s website or call to see if they have enough vaccine supply. Again, don't just show up. 

    For members of Phase 1A, the state recommends contacting your employer if you are a health care worker, or your facility if you're a long-term care resident, before registering with a vaccine hub or provider. Many people in Phase 1A can receive vaccines directly through their workplace or long-term care facility.  

    Texas is currently distributing vaccines to hospitals, pharmacies, local health departments, freestanding emergency rooms, vaccine hubs and other clinics all across the state. More than 7,000 providers have registered with the state to administer COVID-19 vaccines. As more vaccines become available, more providers will start to receive them.  

    How do I know when I’m able to get a vaccine?

    Follow updates about the vaccine’s availability for various groups on the State Health Services' COVID-19 Vaccine Information page.

    AARP recommends that you talk to your doctor about the safety, effectiveness, benefits and risks of the COVID-19 vaccine. Older adults, especially those with underlying medical conditions such as heart disease and diabetes, are at increased risk for hospitalization and death from COVID-19.  

    I’ve heard that some vaccines require a second shot.

    The initial COVID-19 vaccines, Pfizer’s and Moderna’s, require two doses. If you get one of these vaccines, you’ll need a follow-up dose a few weeks later to be effectively immunized.

    “What you have is you get some degree, not optimal, but some degree of immunity a couple of weeks after the first dose,” Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said in December. “That’s not optimal. After the second dose, you get optimal immunity anywhere from seven to 10 days after the second dose.”

    After receiving the first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, recipients should get a card from their provider saying when and where to return for their second dose, Texas Governor Greg Abbott has said. Follow-up text messages, e-mails and phone calls are also part of a statewide communication plan to ensure proper vaccination.

    The Texas Immunization Registry (called ImmTrac2) will provide local health departments and provider organizations tasked with reminder outreach with regular updates on patients who are almost due for their second dose, according to the state’s interim COVID-19 Vaccination Plan.

    The CDC has also launched a web tool called v-safe that lets you sign up for text message reminders for your second vaccine appointment and report possible side effects.

    How will nursing home and other long-term care residents get the vaccine? 

    The federal government has contracted with CVS and Walgreens to administer the COVID-19 vaccines at no cost to long-term care residents and staff. CVS is partnering with over 40,000 facilities, including nursing homes, assisted living communities and other types of long-term care facilities, to provide vaccines to up to 4 million residents and staff through the program, while Walgreens is partnering with roughly 35,000 facilities to provide vaccines to up to 3 million residents and staff.

    In Texas, roughly 3,200 skilled nursing homes and other long-term care facilities, totaling more than 225,000 beds, have registered for the program, which began on Dec. 28.

    Do I have to pay for the vaccination? 

    AARP fought to make sure the federal government is covering the cost of the vaccine itself. But the CDC says vaccine providers may still charge a fee for giving someone a shot. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has said the vaccine will be administered free of charge to Medicare beneficiaries, with no co-pays. Some health insurance companies have also announced that there won’t be out-of-pocket costs for policyholders.

    Texas’s interim COVID-19 Vaccination Plan says that providers can only enroll to administer COVID-19 vaccines if they agree to “administer COVID-19 Vaccine regardless of the vaccine recipient’s ability to pay COVID-19 Vaccine administration fees.”

    There are already reports of scammers purporting to offer COVID vaccines and treatments and trying to charge for them. AARP’s Fraud Watch Network is tracking the latest scams.

    How long does immunity last after I get vaccinated? 

    It’s not yet known how long immunity from a coronavirus vaccine lasts and whether it needs to be administered on a regular basis like the flu shot.

    Should I still wear a mask after getting vaccinated?

    Yes. Experts still need to learn more about the protection the vaccines provide under “real-life conditions,” the CDC says. It could take your body a few weeks to build up immunity after the second dose of a vaccine. And while the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are effective at preventing symptoms of COVID-19, it’s not yet clear whether someone who’s been vaccinated can still catch the virus and transmit it to others.

    The vaccine is just one tool that can help slow the spread of the coronavirus. The CDC says it could take months for the population to build up immunity and continues to recommend preventive measures such as face masks and social distancing. 

    “Every adult in Texas has the responsibility to follow the safe practices as we continue to work our way out of this,” Abbott said in a recent news conference.

    AARP has also called for ongoing monitoring of vaccines, once they are authorized for public use, to identify any risks that weren't evident in the expedited development and review process.

    This guide was originally published on Dec. 21. It was updated on Jan. 17 with new information from the Texas Department of State Health Services.

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