Austin-Travis County EMS receives COVID-19 vaccines ahead of schedule
A partnership with the University of Texas' Dell Medical School allowed some ATCEMS providers to get access to the first vaccine shipment
By Laura French
AUSTIN, Texas — EMTs and paramedics in Austin-Travis County will be able to receive the COVID-19 vaccine earlier than expected thanks to a partnership with the University of Texas' Dell Medical School.
While EMS providers are included in Phase 1a of vaccine distribution in Texas, Austin-Travis County EMS (ATCEMS) was expecting to receive a shipment later in December, with the first shipments in the state going to other healthcare facilities, according to an ATCEMS press release. However, the University of Texas (UT) Health Austin medical center collaborated with city, county and state officials to distribute the vaccine earlier to more healthcare workers and first responders in the area.
"Since the beginning of the pandemic, it's been clear that it would take a broad coalition across Central Texas working together to defeat COVID-19," said UT Health Austin Chief Clinical Officer Amy Young, MD, the vice dean of professional practice at Dell Medical School, in a statement. "We are continuing to work in partnership with Austin Public Health, along with the Austin-Travis County EMS and the Austin Fire Department, to support our community's health care personnel and our critical health infrastructure."
EMS providers at ATCEMS, the Austin Fire Department and other area public safety agencies began receiving their first round of COVID-19 vaccines on Dec. 19, with more expected to receive the vaccine throughout the coming weeks.
"We're lucky to have such a close working relationship with our hospital partners. To be invited to get vaccinations earlier than expected was an opportunity we could not (and would not) pass up," said ATCEMS Chief Ernesto Rodriguez, in a statement. "It really is a blessing to have such a good partnership, and work together to ensure the safety of all the healthcare workers in our area. Getting the vaccines ahead of our expected timeline means that our hardworking EMTs and Paramedics will be able to safely care for Austin-Travis County residents all the sooner."