The clinic started taking calls at 7:30 a.m. and was quickly inundated with people wanting to sign up.
HOUSTON — The city of Houston opened its first COVID-19 vaccine clinic Saturday. People were told to register for an appointment by phone only, but the phone system was quickly overwhelmed.
So the city moved to an on-site registration. Here’s now what you need to know if you want to register.
People who meet Phase 1A or Phase 1B criteria and want to get vaccinated can go to the Bayou City Event Center located at 9401 Knight Rd to schedule an appointment time.
Capacity is limited to 750 appointments.
The clinic started taking calls at 7:30 a.m. Saturday and was quickly inundated with people wanting to sign up.
In a tweet, the Houston Health Department said they were receiving so many calls that the system was overwhelmed and they had to switch to an in-person registration.
Who is in Phases 1A and 1B?
Phase 1A includes includes healthcare workers and first responders
Phase 1B includes:
- People 65 years old and older
- People 16 years old and older with at least one chronic medical condition that puts them at increased risk for severe illness from the coronavirus, including but not limited to:
- Chronic kidney disease
- COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease)
- Heart conditions, such as heart failure, coronary artery disease or cardiomyopathies
- Solid organ transplantation
- Obesity and severe obesity (body mass index of 30 kg/m2 or higher)
- Sickle cell disease
- Type 2 diabetes mellitus
About the Houston vaccine clinic
Mayor Sylvester Turner said the clinic is expanding vaccine access to the general public at high risk of severe illness and death from COVID-19.
“We are anticipating a rush on the phone lines,” Mayor Turner said Friday. “The reality is we simply don’t have sufficient quantity to meet the demand.”
He said there will only be 750 spots available Saturday.
“Anyone that’s 65 and older, teacher, police officer, you name it,” Mayor Turner said.
It is open to the public, but you must fall within Phase 1A or 1B to be eligible, meaning you must be 65 years or older. Because the city is offering the Moderna vaccine, it’s also for those 16 and older with certain medical conditions.
The Houston Health Department said you also must be a resident of the City of Houston.
“It’s a lot more involved than just the testing sites,” Mayor Turner said.
Unlike the drive-thru testing sites, at the vaccine site, you will have to get out of your car. One reason is after getting the shot, health officials must monitor you depending on your medical background for 15 to 30 minutes.
“That requires additional spacing and additional staffing and that also explains one of the reasons why you can’t do as much as you would like to do,” he said.
Houston’s Health Department received an initial shipment of 3,000 doses. The Houston Fire Department got another 3,000. However, the mayor has been critical of the rollout, saying it needs to move faster to meet the demand in a big city like ours where the virus is still spreading.
“I know it can be frustrating, but we are operating with what we have and hopefully we will get a lot, lot more,” he said.
The city says it’s quite possible it will run out of doses Saturday. You can use the state’s online map to find other vaccine providers in your area, like doctors, pharmacies and hospitals.
For more information, visit the Houston Health Department’s website.