HOUSTON – The Houston Health Department said 1,600 new appointments for the COVID-19 vaccine were booked within five minutes on Friday afternoon. The department said they received an additional 9,000 doses of the vaccine on Friday.
The new appointments were for the department’s new drive-thru vaccination site at Delmar Stadium, operated by United Memorial Medical Center, which is set to open Monday.
Officials said people who show up without confirmed appointments will be turned away.
The department also plans to transfer 800 doses to other providers, vaccinate approximately 900 people turned away from Minute Maid Park last Saturday, and fulfill existing appointments at Bayou City Event Center, its health centers and multi-service centers.
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“We are pleased to operate two mass vaccination sites next week, one the city’s north and another on the south side. These two locations make the vaccine more accessible to all, complementing the health department’s health centers and multi-service centers,” said Mayor Sylvester Turner. “As we receive more vaccine, we will expand partnerships with pharmacies and federally qualified health centers to ensure the vaccine is available in the most vulnerable communities and deploy mobile strike teams as needed.”
The department plans to announce new appointment opportunities weekly, based on supply.
People can learn about new appointment opportunities through email, text message, voice call, or mobile app push notification by registering for the HoustonRecovers subscription of AlertHouston at AlertHouston.org.
Appointments are based on vaccine availability and may be adjusted based on the department’s supply.
As of January 21, the department administered a total of 29,751 doses of vaccine.
People who received their first dose of vaccine through the health department will be contacted about scheduling their second dose before the recommended due date. Please check voicemails, text messages and emails frequently for information.
The department currently provides the Moderna vaccine. Moderna’s second dose is recommended 28 days after the first dose.
Updated guidance from the CDC says “the second dose should be administered as close to the recommended interval as possible. However, if it is not feasible to adhere to the recommended interval, the second does of Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines may be scheduled for administration up to 6 weeks (42 days) after the first dose. If the second dose is administered beyond these intervals, there is no need to restart the series.”
If contact information has changed since a person received their first dose from the Health Department, please alert the COVID-19 call center at 832-393-4220.
“We understand the anxiety about the second dose and appreciate everyone’s patience as we continue working together to achieve the largest mass vaccination effort ever,” said Stephen L. Williams, director of the Health Department. “Please be assured that if you were vaccinated by the Houston Health Department, we will reach out to you within the appropriate timeframe to schedule your second dose.”
Even when vaccinated, everyone still needs to take precautions like masking up, practicing social distancing, washing hands and getting tested to help stop the spread of COVID-19 as people get vaccinated and we learn more about the immunity produced by the vaccines.
“Please encourage your family and community to ‘Take Your Best Shot’ as the vaccine becomes more widely available,” Williams said.