No slots left for rest of January for Houston's public vaccine clinic

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner was among the city's top leaders who got their first dosages of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine on Monday.

But his vaccination at City Hall comes as every available chance offered to residents to get the shot this month filled up quickly.

Earlier in the day, Turner's office announced the start of an online appointment portal to allow Houstonians who qualify under Phase 1B of the vaccination rollout to register. The site was made in addition to a call center that was temporarily out of order due to overwhelming demand.

The mayor visited with residents Sunday at the city's first public COVID-19 vaccine site at the Bayou City Event Center. Appointments there were fully booked for the second day in the row, but people could still call to make an appointment later this week.

In a tweet posted by Turner on Sunday, a total of 986 people were vaccinated.

And just like Sunday, Turner reported another busy day Monday, but he urged residents who qualify for the vaccine to get the shot once it becomes available. He also urged those in the Black, Hispanic and Asian-American communities - all classified as those with a large share of high-risk individuals - to make appointments as soon as possible.

Aside from the mayor, Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo, Fire Chief Samuel Pena, Turner's city council colleagues and a handful of front-line public works employees were vaccinated.

According to the state's health department's vaccine data dashboard, as of Monday, Harris County so far has administered at least 62,321 first doses.

Turner said the city is trying to increase the amount of doses administered each day at its public vaccination site. The city's also working to open additional mass sites in the future. However, he said there are challenges ahead.

"We need the dollars from the last stimulus package to get here as quickly as possible," he explained. "As you know, they didn't pass that until the end of the year ... the very end. So, a lot of this (is) hampering the ability to ramp up to hire significantly more people, because in order to have all of these sites, you need to really have ubiquitous vaccinations, widespread vaccinations. You need more staffing, quite a bit, and the ability to set up mobile sites and the ability to go to people's homes to actually vaccinate them."

If you meet the requirements to get your first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine as part of Phase 1B and want to make an appointment at the city's public vaccination clinic, you can call the city's health department's COVID-19 call center at 832-393-4220 or visit the city of Houston's vaccine website.

The clinic is housed at the Bayou City Event Center, located at 9401 Knight Rd.

RodeoHouston volunteers approached to man future vaccine sites

Going hand-in-hand with a planned mega center, Turner is also facing an issue when it comes to manpower and future vaccine clinics.

In an email, past volunteers of the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo were informed that the annual show was approached by the city to assist in finding volunteers to work at soon-to-be-opened vaccination sites.

Rodeo volunteers who agree to be a part of the sites will be eligible but not required to be vaccinated as part of Phase 1A, according to the email.

The volunteer duties range from medical, to logistical and clerical.
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