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Vaccine Registration System Goes Down On Day 1 As Austin Public Health Ramps Up Distribution

The city of Austin skyline as seen on Jan. 11.
Gabriel C. Pérez
The Austin skyline on Jan. 11.

The director of Austin Public Health is asking for patience as a new online system for people to see whether they quality for the COVID-19 vaccine rolls out.

“We have to emphasize: [Supply] is very limited. As you all know, we only received 12,000 doses to provide our community,” APH Director Stephanie Hayden said, adding there had been more than 20,000 sign-ups to get the current allocation of doses.

The system, which went up Tuesday night, was having technical issues due to the high number of people trying to register.

APH said the agency is focused primarily on distributing doses to older adults and those with limited access to health care, as well as the remaining 1A population of long-term care facility residents and frontline health care personnel.

LIVE: Austin health officials talk spiking COVID-19 hospitalizations, ICU capacity | KVUE

There have been reports of people who aren't in those two priority groups receiving the vaccine. Atone vaccination site on Wednesday, people without an appointment were turned away.

Going forward, Hayden said, people will need an appointment to get vaccinated through Austin Public Health.

She said people who sign up but aren't yet eligible will be notified when they are.

“When we have more vaccines available, they will be contacted based upon when they contacted [Austin Public Health]," Hayden said.

Providers are required to give the second dose to those who’ve already received the first dose, she noted. “We would not provide an initial dose and neglect those people by not providing that second dose to them."

People do not need to provide proof of residency or proof of underlying conditions in order to receive the vaccine. Anyone who has been tested for COVID-19 through Austin Public Health should use the same information to register for a vaccine.

The city's interim health authority, Dr. Mark Escott, acknowledged that the limited supply of the vaccine has left people feeling frustrated. Until the area is allocated additional doses, he's asking for people to continue using preventive measures that reduce transmission.

“We are working locally, at the state and federal level to ramp up our ability to vaccinate people quickly when that supply is here," Escott said.

Dr. Jason Pickett, the county's alternate health authority, said the care site at the city’s convention center is expected to house patients by the end of Wednesday. Escott said they are working to include the number of hospitalizations at the site in the city’s COVID dashboard.

This story has been updated.

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Jerry Quijano is the local All Things Considered anchor for KUT. Got a tip? Email him at Follow him on Twitter @jerryquijano.
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