¡Que Onda Magazine!

Houston's oldest bilingual publication

Houston opens first free COVID-19 vaccination site

The Houston Health Department opened the city’s first public COVID-19 vaccine site Saturday.

“We are working efficiently to vaccinate eligible frontline employees and vulnerable Houstonians,” Mayor Sylvester Turner said. “The virus has taken a toll, especially among the elderly and black and brown communities. The vaccine is our best shot to help prevent people from getting sick and potentially suffering severe consequences.”

In a release Saturday morning, the Houston Health Department said the public’s response was overwhelming. The COVID-19 call center was inundated by those seeking to schedule vaccination appointments.

The call center, which handles COVID-19 vaccination scheduling, COVID-19 test scheduling, and also releases COVID-19 test results, was experiencing technical issues due to the high call volume.

While the department worked to get its call center up and running again, it pivoted to on-site registration Saturday.

Those who met Phase 1A or Phase 1B vaccination criteria and wanted to get vaccinated were asked to proceed to the Bayou City Event Center, located at 9401 Knight Road, where they were provided an appointment time.

The clinic’s Saturday capacity was limited to 750 appointments. By 1:30 p.m. Saturday, all appointments had been issued.

The goal in January is to provide 100,000 vaccines to residents.

“We have to get there,” said Turner, who announced he will receive the COVID-19 vaccine on Monday.

Turner also said the call center’s technical issues were resolved and the call center had reopened.

How the clinic works:

To make an appointment to receive the Moderna vaccine, call the health department’s COVID-19 call center at 832-393-4220 between the house of 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Each person will be provided a location and appointment time to be vaccinated. The health department says it will screen people when they first drive into the clinic area, direct them to a secure area to receive the vaccination, and monitor them for any adverse reaction for 15 minutes, according to a press release.

Who’s eligible to get the vaccine at the clinic?

Texas’ Phase 1B distribution plan will prioritize people 65 and older and people 16 and older, who have at least one chronic medical condition, putting them at increased risk, according to a release.

According to the release, “The Moderna COVID-19 vaccine is recommended for persons 18 years of age and older in the U.S. population under the FDA’s Emergency Use Authorization. Per CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices.”

Medical conditions include the following: cancer, chronic kidney disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, heart conditions, solid organ transplantation, obesity and severe obesity, pregnancy, sickle cell disease and type 2 diabetes.

The release also stated that frontline healthcare workers will be eligible for vaccination as part of the Phase 1A distribution that began in mid-December.

The Houston Health Department will announce additional free vaccination opportunities as supply increases.

According to the release, people who qualify should contact their medical provider or use the Texas Department of State Health Services’ online map to find and call vaccine providers.

For more information about COVID-19 vaccines, click here.