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Austin's Top Doctor Defends Decision To Offer State Legislators COVID-19 Vaccines

The city’s interim health authority says he stands by his decision to offer COVID-19 vaccines to state legislators as many others across the state continue searching for doses.

“Number 1: We have a unique event which is happening in our jurisdiction, in the City of Austin in Travis County; that is the legislative session,” Dr. Mark Escott said, "which brings individuals from around the state of Texas to one place. [We’re] talking about thousands of people who are going to be in contact for six months. That represents a risk for a superspreading event.”

Escott says the other concern is continuity of government and recognizing that essential government services must continue during the pandemic.

“My hope is that the state will provide a specific allocation for that purpose. But as far as the city and county is concerned, we are going to focus some of our resources, a small amount of resources, on that continuity-of-government plan,” he said.

That will include elected city and county officials, county and state judges and key staff who qualify as part of the 1B population of adults older than 65 and those with underlying conditions.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

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Jerry Quijano is a producer and host. A native south Texan, he joined the KUT staff after graduating from Texas A&M University-San Antonio. Jerry was part of NPR’s Next Generation initiative at KUT in 2017. When he’s not in the studio, Jerry enjoys collecting vinyl records.