Needle in The Haystack

Syringe and Vaccine by NIAID is licensed under CC BY 2.0

“Syringe and Vaccine” by NIAID is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Everyone age 16 or older, regardless of their work or health status, will be eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine in Texas starting March 29. The vaccines are not limited to Texas residents, and citizenship is not a requirement for the vaccine.

Until now, eligibility for the vaccine was mainly restricted to a few groups: health care workers, people ages 50 and older, those with certain underlying health conditions who are 16 or older, and the most recently added group, employees of schools and day care centers. Texas began receiving vaccines in mid-December, and has moved somewhat slowly to transition to non-essential groups.

The vaccine is still in short supply, as the announcement makes about 22 million people eligible on Monday. The state has been allocated more than 14 million doses since distribution began in December — far short of the supply needed to fully vaccinate everyone right away.

As of Tuesday, Texas had administered more than 9.3 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine. More than 6 million people have received at least one dose, and more than 3 million have been fully vaccinated, according to state health officials.

On March 10, the statewide mask mandate was lifted and businesses were allowed to go back to 100% capacity, even as health experts cautioned that Texans should not let their guard down, as emerging variants threaten another potential spike in cases. New coronavirus cases and hospitalizations are at lows not seen since October, according to state health figures.

In simpler terms: there is a decent, but not certain, chance we are nearing the end. The trends are looking positive thanks to the contribution of mask-wearing and increased vaccination. If this continues, the school may be looking toward a school year relatively close to normal.