People turned away at Minute Maid Park after COVID-19 vaccine appointments overbooked

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Hundreds of people were sent home disappointed after the Houston Health Department announced it ran out of COVID-19 vaccine doses at the public mega site at Minute Maid Park on Saturday.

The department said the staff administered 5,451 doses of the vaccine as of 6 p.m. on Saturday, and there was a glitch in the system that caused it to overbook appointments.

Several people left without getting vaccinated before the overbooking announcement was made because the line outside Minute Maid Park wrapped around half of the building.

"It seems like it's very unorganized," said Elizabeth Patterson, who was one of the people to leave the long line after waiting for hours. "What's the point of making an appointment if you're going to stand here for three to four hours to get in and then you might not even get it?"

Moayyad Razzok and his wife, Shatha, said they received the first dose of the Moderna vaccine at the clinic on Saturday. They waited for hours and said it was cold but applauded the department's process.

READ MORE: When can you get the COVID-19 vaccine? Find out where you are in line

"I don't think there's enough nurses," Moayyad said. "It was good, you know, we can get the vaccine, at least, here in Houston. There's people around the world right now that don't have the chance to get it."

At a press conference Saturday afternoon, Stephen Williams, Director of the Houston Health Department, said earlier this week Mayor Sylvester Turner pushed to get out as many vaccines out this weekend, and the department agreed to administer 5,000 doses.

"Although I said, 'Mayor if we give out 5,000 (doses), that means we're not going to have enough for the next week,'" Williams said. "But, he insisted that we get out as much as we could."

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Williams went on to say he was proud of the staff, volunteers and partners that helped put their operation together to administer the doses on Saturday.

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ABC13's Erik Barajas took your COVID-19 questions for a town hall, featuring Mayor Turner, Dr. David Persse and Dr. Sherri Onyiego.

ABC13 put in an inquiry with the Mayor's office and the city's health department regarding the alleged 'glitch' in the system. This was the response from a spokesperson with the Houston Health Department:

"Our vaccine supply info is on our website. We scheduled approx 5k appointments today but went over.

On January 14, the health department received an additional 8,200 doses of vaccine, bringing its total to 30,350.

As of January 15, the department administered a total of 21,025 doses at locations including Minute Maid Park, Bayou City Event Center, its Northside, La Nueva Casa de Amigos, Sharpstown and Sunnyside health centers, the JW Peavy Senior Center, and its Acres Homes, Hiram Clarke and Magnolia multi-service centers.

Approximately 5,000 people are scheduled to for vaccination at the health department's Minute Maid Park mega site on January 16.

The department also transferred a total of 1,900 doses to other providers."

Turner said on Twitter that the city of Houston vaccinated 6,122 people, and the health department tried to accommodate everyone who showed up. There were still many who had to be rescheduled or turned away.

He also said earlier on Saturday that the demand for the vaccine was greater than the current supply.

SEE ALSO: Supply will catch up with demand, officials assure Houstonians

"Even if every one of you had every online system working perfectly," Turner said. "Every call in (to the) system was working perfectly. You are still going to have most people not able to get the vaccine because the supply is not available. You heard that Dr. Williams say that up to this point, the city of Houston has received a little more than 30,000 doses. Now put that in context. There are 2.3 million people in the city of Houston. There are another 4 million people in the county. These doses are made available for not just people in the city of Houston, but people in the county and people in the surrounding region. There is not enough supply for the demand, when everybody is wanting the vaccine right now. That's not system failure."
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