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Dr. Jennifer Shuford has been named commissioner of the Texas Department of State Health Services, state officials announced Tuesday.
Shuford’s leadership of the department was made permanent months after she took over, in an interim capacity, for longtime commissioner Dr. John Hellerstedt following his September retirement. Shuford has worked at the department since 2017.
“Dr. Shuford has demonstrated an exceptional commitment and passion for public service. Her extensive experience and knowledge in public health will serve Texans well as she assumes this new role,” Cecile Erwin Young, the executive commissioner of Texas Health and Human Services, said in a statement Tuesday. The health department falls under Texas Health and Human Services.
Before serving as interim commissioner, Shuford was the chief state epidemiologist at the health department, and she was credited with supporting the state’s public health response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Shuford came to DSHS after practicing as an infectious disease physician in Austin.
DSHS is the governmental agency that oversees public health operations for the state. It has a staff of more than 3,500 employees and a multibillion-dollar budget that ballooned in recent years due to the pandemic.
Headquartered in Austin with about 100 offices throughout the state, DSHS also serves as the primary public health agency in 164 Texas counties. The agency supports and oversees immunization services, communicable disease investigation and reporting, and public health emergency preparedness and response.