Houston-area counties using COVID-19 vaccine waitlists to manage demand

TEXAS (KTRK) -- Becki Anderson spent hours trying to register to get a COVID-19 vaccine using the Harris County Public Health website on Tuesday.

She called, too.

After dozens of tries, she was able to get through the system, but Anderson wasn't the only one who experienced the same issue.

HCPH told Eyewitness News it planned to open the online portal Tuesday afternoon. Later that day, they said they were having technical issues with the website. The issues, however, improved and people were able to register.

By 4:30 p.m. on Tuesday, more than 49,000 people in Harris County had successfully registered.

READ MORE: Harris Co. vaccine waitlist operating again after early error
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Within half an hour of launching for all county residents, some users were met with a dreaded error message earlier Tuesday.

The county's new smart waitlist is not built on a first-come first-serve basis. Selections occur through a randomization process to make the system more equitable.

"I think it's fair, and I kind of think it needs to be done," said Anderson.

Everywhere you go in Texas, the issue with the vaccine rollout mainly deals with a shortage of supply. ABC13 conducted research on Tuesday to see how other counties in the Houston-area are handling the demand.

Brazoria County issues the COVID-19 vaccine on a first-come first-serve basis.

In Montgomery County, there are two systems.

Montgomery County Public Health had 400 people sign up in just nine minutes, according to officials. They're prioritizing their list based on age for now. The county also has a list of people to contact if someone doesn't follow up and make their appointment after being contacted by MCPH.

The Montgomery County Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management is assisting with vaccines and has created their own waitlist for people wanting to sign up using their agency.

Meanwhile, over in Galveston County, after experiencing a huge demand, the local health authority said they are now looking at creating their own waitlist as well. It has been built as a first-come first-serve basis platform. That pilot program is already underway.

"Rather than issue this cattle call, you'll already be on the list and you will get an email when it's time for you to make an appointment," said Philip Keiser, Galveston County's Local Health Authority.

READ MORE: Galveston Co. health officials announce vaccine waitlist plans and do away with 'cattle call'

To learn more about vaccine availability in your county, visit your county's health department's website.

Watch live newscasts and in-depth reporting from ABC13 on your favorite streaming devices, like Roku, FireTV, AppleTV and AndroidTV. Just search "ABC13 Houston."

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