By Erin Jones

DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – In Texas, more than 7 million COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered and next Monday, March 15, Texans 50 and older will be eligible to receive one,the Texas Department of State Health Services announced Wednesday, March 10.

Across North Texas, health departments are getting prepared for the next phase as they open up their waitlists to accept those in the state’s 1C phase which includes people 50-64 years old.

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State health officials said this group will be the next to be vaccinated because they fall into the next category of greatest risk.

“Twenty-percent of the deaths in Texas throughout the pandemic have occurred in people ages 50-64 and when you add people 65 and older the combined group accounts for over 93% of all COVID related deaths,” Expert Vaccine Allocation Panel Chair Imelda Garcia said.

Some supporters of labor unions are not happy with the state’s 1C classification.

The President of AFL-CIO said the state should have opened the 1C category to “other essential workers” first which is in line with CDC recommends.

Those who work in transportation and logistics, food services and housing construction and finance for example.

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“We call them essential and we call them heroes and it seems to me that if there’s an expansion on access to vaccines that we ought to start with the folks who have really sacrificed for us so much, AFL-CIO President Rick Levy said.

“Any frontline worker that has any comorbidities that make them at higher risk are eligible right now,” Garcia said.

She said at the end of the, helping reduce hospitalizations and deaths are the top priority.

“That’s why we choose the group 50 to 64,” she said.

In the last few months, the state’s Expert Vaccine Allocation Panel has received thousands of requests from other essential workers asking to be prioritized.

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“We’re going to be asking legislators to fill the vacuum to look out and see that working people need help, they need protection and they need it now,” Levy said.

Erin Jones