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There is a website for COVID vaccine signups in Houston

You can’t use it right now, but it’s there.

Houston’s Health Department launched an online portal for residents to apply for an appointment at its COVID-19 vaccine clinic Monday but quickly ran out of available slots for the remainder of the month.

“The response to Houston’s first COVID-19 vaccine clinic was massive, quickly filling the appointment slots for the department’s current vaccine allocation,” Mayor Sylvester Turner said at a City Hall news conference where he was about to get his own shot in the arm.

“The vaccine clinic appointments are booked for the rest of this month, and the department is not taking additional appointments at this time.”

Turner said the city is working to set up additional sites and create additional capacity, although it is unclear when new appointments will be available. Turner said the city hopes to open a “mega site” on Saturday.

The portal, available at houstonemergency.org/covid-19-vaccines, added another way for qualifying residents to book for an appointment. A hotline also is available at 832-393-4220.

The city clinic vaccinated nearly 2,000 residents with the Moderna vaccine in two days. It is accepting residents from the first two phases of the state’s distribution plan, which include front-line emergency workers, people 65 and older, and those over 16 with certain high-risk health conditions.

It’s a good start, but at 2K shots a day, we’re talking two years to get to 75% distribution in the city. We’d like to go a little faster than that. Obviously, the city is limited by how much vaccine it can get, as well as the state regulations. Harris County had its own rough rollout thanks to confusion over who was allowed to sign up. On that first front at least, help is on the way, so maybe in another month or two we’ll see much higher numbers. And at least there is now a central location for this for Houston residents, something that had been sorely lacking before.

There’s some more vaccine coming to Texas, but it’s still not a lot.

On Monday, state health officials announced that 325,000 additional vaccine doses would be getting into the hands of 949 providers in 158 Texas counties over the next week, part of the first round of vaccinations for front-line health workers as well as nursing home residents, Texans over 65 and those with certain medical conditions, among others. Some 121,875 doses are earmarked for long-term care facilities such as nursing homes and assisted-living centers.

But with the number of vaccine doses available still falling far short of what’s needed to cover those who are eligible — and with state officials pushing hospitals and other providers to administer vaccine doses that the providers say they don’t have, aren’t sure are coming or have already administered — confusion and frustration have surrounded the initial few weeks of the vaccination rollout.

Providers have 24 hours to report their vaccination statistics to the Department of State Health Services, and the agency updates its numbers each afternoon with data reported by midnight the day before, so the state’s numbers could lag up to two days behind the reality on the ground.

Officials from the White House down to local doctors have warned that it would take months to have vaccine doses available to everyone who wants one.

“The problem is unrealistic expectations based on the reality on the ground,” said Marshall Cothran, CEO of the Travis County Medical Society, which received 700 doses through a local partnership and had them all scheduled within 48 hours for physicians and staff who are not affiliated with hospitals or other care organizations.

With the new shipments this week, the state has been allotted a total of 1.5 million doses through the first four weeks of distribution, officials said Monday. Providers in 214 of the state’s 254 counties will have received shipments by the end of the week, health officials said.

Some 793,625 doses had been received by providers by midnight Sunday, according to the Texas Department of Health Services.

Of those, 414,211 — just over half of those delivered — had been administered, according to the agency’s dashboard.

Hardesty said the nearly 16,000 doses his facility received are being administered “fast and furiously,” and about 10,000 people have gotten their first dose, with second doses to start in the next week.

“We’re giving them as quickly as we can,” he said.

I don’t doubt that, but let’s be clear that 1.5 million doses is five percent of the state’s population, and that 414K is just a bit more than one percent. Seven hundred doses for Travis County, with 1.3 million people, is a drop in the bucket. If you vaccinated 700 people a day in Travis County, it would take you six years to get everyone. In the end, this won’t take anywhere near that long, but we are talking months, and in the meantime the hospitals are also dealing with an insane surge in new cases. I can’t emphasize enough how much we needed to keep a lid on this, and how badly we failed at that.

Anyway. Here was the Harris County website for vaccine registration, which is still up but doesn’t have any method for signing up for a COVID shot at this time. Dallas County has its own website, while Bexar County had a similar experience as Houston did. It will get better, I’m sure, but the early days are going to be chaotic.

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8 Comments

  1. Jason Hochman says:

    How did Mayor Turner get vaccinated already?

  2. Jules says:

    Most likely as part of the continuous government thing. Many elected people have been vaccinated, including President-elect Biden.

  3. C.L. says:

    Same way Ted Cruz and Mark Rubio got vaccinated.

  4. Lobo says:

    JUMPING THE GUN & THE BREADLINE ANALOGY

    The other obvious reason is the idea of projecting confidence that the vaccine is safe. For continuity-in-government and officeholder-survival purposes, they could have stayed silent about it.

    Since the supply is currently so small relative to huge already-existing demand, we don’t have to worry about the anti-vaxxers yet. And it makes no sense to promote getting the vaccination via the mass media when there is currently no ability to satisfy that demand.

    In a market scenario, the price would jolt up, and the shots would go to the high bidders/those able and willing to pay dearly for the scarce good. Price is not a viable allocation mechanism here, so some other rationing dynamic will necessarily have to come into play.

    Even when the supply is increased greatly, there still has to be an orderly spreading-out/scheduling of the people wanting to get it now as a matter of logistics and proper in-person (in-the-arm) administration. Setting up priority-categories is obviously not enough when the aggregate numbers in the priority groups is too large, thus requiring rationing within the eligibility categories; – at least on the time-dimension, i.e. electronic waiting queues to avoid lines of cars at vaccination locations.

    Your call is important to us. Stay on the line (if you can get through in the first place) … Blah

  5. Bill Daniels says:

    “And it makes no sense to promote getting the vaccination via the mass media when there is currently no ability to satisfy that demand.”

    Wolf hits the nail on the head! And yet, that’s exactly what the leftists are doing. Trying to convince muh black people and muh other non-White people that it’s OK to take the vaccine. LOL! You’re absolutely right, Wolf. With a scarce resource, it’s completely useless, counterproductive, and downright idiotic to promote said scarce resource. If people want to take it, let them. Once all the willing people have taken it, THEN it might be time to try and convince stragglers to take it.

  6. Jules says:

    I’m not entirely comfortable with these decision makers getting vaccinated while the rest of us can’t, but it’s clearly a bipartisan effort to promote the vaccine. Anyone can google Pence, Rubio, AOC, etc getting the shot.

  7. Mainstream says:

    Bill, there is no reason to delay an advertising campaign to encourage vaccine acceptance. The best marketing is early and frequent. The stragglers may need months of convincing.

  8. […] 200K total doses next week as part of this preparation. That’s good, but as we’ve discussed before, the numbers remain daunting. Texas has almost 30 million people in it. At 100K shots a week, […]