After months of working on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic and swirling uncertainty surrounding vaccine eligibility, restaurant workers and other food service employees will finally have access to the COVID-19 vaccine.
In its latest guidance, the Texas Department of State Health Services has announced that all adults in the state will be eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine starting on Monday, March 29. The organization says that it has distributed 10 million doses of the vaccine to people whose age, occupation, or underlying health conditions put them in the groups that were first prioritized to receive the vaccine.
Unlike other states, which added restaurant and grocery store employees to their high-priority groups for the vaccine, Texas did not prioritize vaccinations for these workers. In early March, a group of service industry workers took to the Capitol in Austin to protest their exclusion from the 1A and 1B priority groups, demanding access to the vaccine. Restaurant workers have been especially vulnerable during the pandemic, with workers like line cooks at some of the highest risk of dying after contracting COVID-19.
According to DSHS, the agency is still urging vaccine providers to “prioritize” older adults and those with health conditions that may put them at a higher risk of developing serious COVID-19 symptoms. “As eligibility opens up, we are asking providers to continue to prioritize people who are the most at risk of severe disease, hospitalization and death – such as older adults,” said DSHS associate commissioner for laboratory and infectious disease services Imelda Garcia in a statement.
In the Dallas-Fort Worth area, restaurant and food service workers can sign up for an appointment to receive the COVID-19 vaccine via public health agencies like Dallas County Public Health, Tarrant County Public Health, and Denton County Public Health. Private providers, like CVS and Walgreens, are also distributing the vaccine, though it can be difficult to get an appointment right now.
For help finding an appointment, check out Texas Vaccine Updates, a grassroots collective of volunteers who are working to secure vaccine appointments for those who are eligible.