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Austin-area residents on Monday were urged to stay indoors and avoid driving in dangerous road conditions, which ultimately led Austin Public Health to cancel vaccination appointments for the fourth day in a row.
Austin Public Health had canceled all vaccination appointments Saturday when roads began to ice over, leading to multiple vehicle crashes across Central Texas. By Monday, Travis County’s icy roads were covered in powdery snow as temperatures dipped into the single digits.
Dr. Mark Escott, interim Austin-Travis County health authority, and Austin Public Health Director Stephanie Hayden-Howard on Friday said their staffs would work with individuals to reschedule vaccination appointments once weather conditions improved.
Austin Public Health officials again on Monday afternoon said the power outages did not affect the vaccine doses and that they will not expire before later this week when appointments are rescheduled.
Before Saturday, Austin Public Health was working to administer 12,000 first doses and 12,000 second doses it received from the state last week. It’s unclear when the Texas Department of State Health Services will deliver more doses to Central Texas because of the road conditions.
Austin-Travis County residents such as 77-year-old Jerry Griffin on Monday said they were already struggling to sign up for a first dose of the coronavirus vaccine even before the winter storm rolled into Austin.
Those who currently qualify for a coronavirus vaccine, many of whom are 65 and older, have remained frustrated and confused about Austin Public Health’s distribution efforts, including problems with its registration website. Since Austin Public Health receives only about 12,000 first doses every Monday, vaccine appointments book quickly.
Griffin said he wasn’t surprised that Austin Public Health pushed back appointments because of the snowstorm, but he just hoped it wouldn’t delay doses for him and his wife too long.
“My wife and I are both still struggling,” Griffin said. “We are registered at a couple of places. I really want to receive a vaccine, but every time someone gets a shot it helps.
“We tend to shut down pretty quickly around here when we have weather conditions like this. We’ll just hang in there, keeping our fingers crossed and hoping for the best.”