As Houstonians celebrate widened vaccine access, 370,000 people still on county waitlist

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Millions of Texans gained eligibility for sought-after COVID-19 vaccines on Monday, and in Houston, the widened eligibility was met with relief and celebration in at least one vaccine clinic.

A long queue of shot-seekers lined up at Booker T. Washington High School where people who wanted a vaccine were able to register on site rather than ahead of time.

Nevertheless, the state of Texas launched an online web tool to help make getting a COVID-19 vaccine easier through a registration site.

SEE ALSO: Texas launches COVID-19 vaccine schedule sign-up as eligibility widens to 22 million adults

Registration portals remain with the Houston Health Department and Harris County Public Health. Both agencies told ABC13 they can expand vaccination efforts if more supply comes online.

As of March 19, a total of just over 1.3 million vaccine doses had been administered in Harris County. A total of 912,443 first doses had been given out, and 418,081 Harris County residents had been fully vaccinated, according to state data.

Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo said more than 370,000 people remain on their waitlist. They're working to reach every one.

"We have seen an increase in the number of people registering for the waitlist," said Judge Hidalgo. "As long as people want that vaccine, we have evidence and we're going to continue pushing our federal partners to send us more vaccines."

Hidalgo said she's optimistic that supply will increase soon.

State and local officials have said they are doing what they can to ensure underserved communities are not overlooked. The state launched a mass vaccination site at NRG Stadium on Feb. 24 through a pilot program with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, to which Gov. Abbott, Hidalgo and Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner have asked organizers to keep open through at least the end of May.

Community Impact Newspaper contributed to this report.

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