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COVID-19

Austin Public Health Has Now Distributed 28,717 COVID-19 Vaccines

Hundreds of Austinites wait outside the Delco Activity Center for COVID-19 vaccines from Austin Public Health.
Julia Reihs
/
KUT
Hundreds of Austinites wait outside the Delco Activity Center for COVID-19 vaccines from Austin Public Health on Jan. 14.

Austin Public Health has now distributed 28,717 COVID-19 vaccines, according to APH Director Stephanie Hayden-Howard, still a far cry from the number needed to vaccinate the more than 1 million residents living in Travis County

This is the third week in a row APH has been allocated 12,000 doses from the state, but the process has been rocky. The online portal has had technical issues, and some people have been showing up to vaccine sites without an appointment.

Officials sought to provide some clarity during a news conference Friday.

Hayden-Howard said when residents register for a vaccine through APH, they are put on a waitlist. At that point, they don’t need to keep going into the system to try to schedule an appointment; they'll get an email letting them know when appointments are available so they can sign up for one.

“We only provide an appointment when we have vaccine to go along with that appointment,” she said.

People with appointments are given a special code. Hayden-Howard said APH has seen people come to distribution sites without that documentation, but APH is not vaccinating them.

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People continued to report difficulties Friday morning trying to log in to APH’s vaccine site. “Due to high demand, we may experience technical issues and your submission may not go through," a message says. "If you receive an error message, please try re-submitting.”

Hayden-Howard did not say when this would be resolved but said APH was making changes to the website and working through some of the bugs.

APH officials have asked people with insurance to go through their health care providers if possible to allow the doses it receives to go to more vulnerable populations. Health care providers and pharmacies have received much smaller weekly allocations from the state. Go here to get on a waitlist.

The two vaccines approved in the U.S. right now require two doses. Hayden-Howard said APH will provide people who got the first dose from APH with the second dose. Residents should receive an email, phone call or text message about three to five days before it’s time to get the second dose notifying them to schedule an appointment, she said.

A study making headlines Friday morning found a third vaccine, by Johnson & Johnson, is 66% effective in preventing moderate to severe disease. Unlike Pfizer’s and Moderna’s vaccines, this one only requires one shot. Dr. Mark Escott, interim health authority for Austin-Travis County, praised the news of the vaccine's efficacy.

“It’s a single dose, which makes it a lot easier to get people effectively vaccinated,” he said. “We are very excited to hear further information about the Johnson & Johnson trial as it submits its emergency use authorization request to the FDA.”

While COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations have remained fairly steady over the last week or so, those numbers are still as high as they were during the July peak, according to Chief Epidemiologist Janet Pichette.

“We would like to see that downward trend begin to occur,” she said.

APH continues to see clusters of cases associated with social gatherings and extracurricular activities at schools.

“We do have vaccine rolling out into our community, which has been a hopeful sign for our community in general,” she said. “However, we do want to remind people that one way to truly avoid the transmission of disease is to make sure you’re wearing your mask ... avoiding social gatherings and limiting activities to those that are only essential.”

Got a tip? Email Marisa Charpentier at mcharpentier@kut.org. Follow her on Twitter @marisacharp.

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