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Harris County launches coronavirus vaccine waitlist but site now has ‘technical difficulties’

HOUSTON – Harris County launched a waitlist Tuesday for people who want to get the coronavirus vaccine, but the site is experiencing “technical difficulties.”

The online registration portal was made available at noon Tuesday. Within an hour, people started seeing an “under maintenance” message being displayed.

Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo said the list is aimed at creating an equitable way to distribute and administer the vaccine.

“Getting a COVID-19 vaccine shouldn’t be like ‘The Hunger Games,’” Hidalgo said. “It shouldn’t be about who can hit refresh on a browser the fastest.”

Hidalgo said the waitlist is available at ReadyHarris.org, when it has been repaired, or by calling 832-927-8787. The phone line will be open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday to Saturday and is available in English, Spanish and Vietnamese.

As of Tuesday evening, 32,352 people had signed up for the waitlist, according to Hidalgo.

How to sign up

You’ll go through three initial steps in order to begin the process of registering.

1. ReadyHarris.org page

Sign up for vaccines button, as shown on Jan. 26, 2021. (ReadyHarris.org)

2. Sign-up registration information page.

Join the waitlist page as shown on Jan. 26, 2021. (ReadyHarris.org)

3. Waitlist registration form start page

Waitlist sign-up sheet (https://vacstrac.hctx.net/landing)

How it works

While anyone can signup for the waitlist, only people who are eligible to receive the vaccine in phases 1A and 1B will be able to get the shot at this time, Hidalgo said. She said the system will not be on a first-come-first-served basis. She said eligible people will be subject to a randomization process to ensure that administration is fair. She said that people who are currently ineligible will be contacted once they are eligible.

If you register online, you’ll receive a confirmation email. Once you’re selected, you’ll receive another email with an individualized identification code inviting you to schedule a time and date within 48 hours to get the vaccine. If you register by phone and you’re selected, you will receive a phone call to make your appointment.

Hidalgo said Harris County Public Health has administered 27,426 vaccines to date and the county is receiving about 9,000 doses per week. She said that while county leaders are advocating for receiving more doses, the waitlist does not mean that the county has a huge stockpile of the vaccine.

Waitlist challenges

Bryan Wirwicz is now among the more than 32,000 people with their names on the waitlist. The 64-year-old cyclist admits the form was not easy to find on the county’s website.

“I looked and looked,” he said. “Apparently, I didn’t look far enough. It was buried under several pages.”

Wirwicz said he has two health conditions that make him a candidate for the COVID-19 vaccine. The path to getting one, he said, hasn’t been smooth.

“Older folks, I think they’re going to have a heck of a time finding that link on where to sign up unless they have a grandson or granddaughter that’s going to give them a hand,” he said.

It wasn’t until the bike enthusiast received a direct link to the registration form that he was able to get added to the waitlist. He said he had also tried by phone but kept getting a busy signal.

Mixed feelings

John Hatch is a resident in Harris County and said that he is eager to register for the waitlist.

“Both of my roommates are in the medical field and both are already vaccinated, so I am excited to get on the waitlist and get the vaccination myself,” Hatch said.

Kiana Frazier said that she is hesitant about the vaccine and said she does not plan to register.

‘I’m not too interested in the vaccine at this time. I’m going to let the first wave go and see how that goes and if it works for them, then maybe,” Frazier said.

According to Hidalgo, the county is working on building out six fixed vaccination sites, targeting those areas with the highest number of COVID-19 cases and those communities and neighborhoods that are underserved.

You can watch a replay of Hidalgo’s news conference below:


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