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Houston Restaurant Workers Will Become Eligible for COVID-19 Vaccines This Month

Starting on March 29, all adults in the state of Texas are eligible for the vaccine

Coronavirus - Vaccination Centre Schoenefeld Airport Photo by Patrick Pleul/picture alliance via Getty Images

Three weeks after the state government allowed restaurants and bars to reopen at full capacity, food service workers in Texas will finally be eligible for vaccinations.

The change came today via a press release from the Texas Department of State Health Services, announcing that all adults aged 18 and over in Texas will be eligible for vaccinations starting on Monday, March 29. That, of course, includes workers in the restaurant industry, who have been working on the front lines of the COVID crisis for months without any clarity on when they might be able to access the vaccine.

Starting next week, DSHS will launch a website to allow people to register for a shot through some public health providers. Texans will be able to enroll in the online scheduler to be notified of available vaccine appointments and to search for providers. More information can be found at dshs.texas.gov/covidvaccine.

The move couldn’t come soon enough. At the beginning of March, Texas Governor Greg Abbott announced that businesses in the state, including bars and restaurants, would be allowed to reopen at 100% capacity starting on March 10. He also announced an almost complete rollback of all COVID-19 mitigation strategies, including an end to the statewide masking requirement. Many Houston-area restaurants quickly declared that they would still require masks for both customers and employees.

A number of people in the state’s food and beverage industry have criticized Abbott and other leaders in the state for fully reopening restaurants without prioritizing food service workers for vaccines. Several bartenders and servers told Eater Dallas that they returning to work without a mask requirement or vaccines made them concerned for their safety.

Texas has faced criticism throughout the past year for being too quick to rollback COVID-19 protections. Since the March 10 reopening, several new, more contagious strains of the virus have popped up in Houston. But by opening vaccines to all Texans — most brands of the vaccine are approved for use in people over the age of 18 — the state might finally be headed in the right direction, Imelda Garcia of DSHS said in a statement.

“We are closing in on 10 million doses administered in Texas, and we want to keep up the momentum as the vaccine supply increases,” she said.

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