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National Guard deployed to help administer COVID-19 vaccines to seniors in Texas

ABC News logo ABC News 2/26/2021
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Texas will deploy more than 1,100 National Guardsmen to help administer COVID-19 vaccines to homebound seniors in rural and isolated areas.

"We are announcing today a statewide program to save our seniors," Gov. Greg Abbott said in a press conference Thursday.

The "Save Our Seniors" program, which will launch Monday, will expand upon a model already rolling out in the Texas city Corpus Christi.

"By implementing a similar model throughout the state, and with the support of the Texas National Guard, we will reach more homebound seniors in communities across Texas and provide them with these life-saving vaccines," Abbott said.

a group of people standing on top of a car: Members of the Texas National Guard test people for COVID-19 in the parking lot of Memorial Swimming Pool, May 18, 2020, in El Paso, Texas. © Paul Ratje/AFP via Getty Images Members of the Texas National Guard test people for COVID-19 in the parking lot of Memorial Swimming Pool, May 18, 2020, in El Paso, Texas.

Officials will identify seniors through programs like Meal on Wheels, which provides meals to the homebound elderly, and nursing home groups.

a group of people wearing military uniforms © Paul Ratje/AFP via Getty Images

The goal is to inoculate all seniors who want a vaccine dose by the end of March.

MORE: Fired Texas doctor defends giving away expiring COVID-19 vaccine doses: 'I did what I believe was expected'

As of Wednesday about 40% of those 65 and older in the state have received at least one vaccine, Abbott said. He wants to boost that number to 50% by the end next week.

A total of 8,000 vaccines have been allotted for the effort for the first week.

a group of people in uniform: Texas National Guard wait for people people to drive up for COVID-19 tests in the parking lot of Memorial Swimming Pool, May 18, 2020, in El Paso, Texas. © Paul Ratje/AFP via Getty Images Texas National Guard wait for people people to drive up for COVID-19 tests in the parking lot of Memorial Swimming Pool, May 18, 2020, in El Paso, Texas.

The National Guard will be broken up into teams deployed across the region that will identify and register homebound seniors for the program.

Abbott said that once the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine is approved, he'll amp up the process of inoculating the entire state beyond phase 1A and 1B.

MORE: Texas officials scramble to administer 5,000 COVID vaccines after power loss

Currently in Texas the vaccine is only available to front-line and vulnerable populations, including those aged 65 and older.

On Friday, the governor announced the state has administered more than 5 million vaccines.

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