UT-Austin is currently only vaccinating people for COVID-19 who meet the 1A or 1B state qualifications despite claims on social media that the vaccine was available to those outside the two phases, a UT spokesperson said.
“At this time, the University is delivering vaccinations only to individuals who meet the requirements of priority vaccination Phase 1A and Phase 1B as defined by the Texas Department of State Health Services in the Covid-19 Vaccine Allocation Guiding Principles,” Jonathan Robb, the director of the Office of Emergency Preparedness, said in an email.
While anyone can fill out a survey to request to be vaccinated, they will not receive a vaccine unless they meet the 1A or 1B qualifications, Susan Hochman, associate director of assessment, communications and health information technology for University Health Services, said in an email.
The 1A group is reserved for health care workers and long-term care facility residents, according to the Texas Department of State Health Services. The 1B group includes anyone 65 and older or 16 and older with a chronic health condition, according to the guidelines.
Misinformation about vaccine availability spread last week through class GroupMe chats and Twitter posts.
The message shared online said “UTHS” sent an email announcing that vaccine registration was open to the general public because of an abundance of Moderna COVID-19 vaccines and a lack of 1B registrants.
While Hochman said vaccine registration at UT is open to the general public unaffiliated with UT due to the University’s status as a designated vaccine “hub,” UT will not vaccinate those outside of the 1A and 1B groups. UT does not have an overflow of Moderna vaccines and has a high demand for the vaccine among the 1B group, said Amy Young, chief clinical officer for UT Health.
When the first dose of a vaccine is drawn from a vial, it must be administered within six hours, Chris Van Deusen, director of media relations for the Texas Department of State Health Services, said in an email.
“At the end of that time, if there are doses remaining and no one in a priority population immediately available, providers should administer (the) vaccine to anyone willing to be vaccinated so those doses are not wasted,” Van Deusen said.
The email did not come from UT-Austin, Hochman said. She said the “UTHS” mentioned in the message may have meant it came from the UT Health Science Center in San Antonio or Houston.
Deborah Mann Lake, director of media relations for the UT Health Science Center at Houston, said the email also did not come from them.
“It did not come from us,” Monica Taylor, senior director of public and media relations for UT Health San Antonio, said in an email. “We are not offering vaccines to the general population like the email suggests.”
The Daily Texan has been unable to track down the original email where these claims began. Each student contacted said they received the message from a friend and did not have the original email.