Austin Public Health lengthens windows for vaccine appointment signups

Photo of people receiving vaccines in a gym
Austin Public Health administers vaccines at the Delco Center in North Austin in March. (Jack Flagler/Community Impact Newspaper)

Austin Public Health administers vaccines at the Delco Center in North Austin in March. (Jack Flagler/Community Impact Newspaper)

After months of restricting vaccine appointment registration to limited time windows, Austin Public Health is offering more opportunities to sign up for appointments. Beginning April 17, vaccine seekers can log on to APH’s online scheduling portal from 7 a.m. Saturday to 7 a.m. Tuesday. As a regional hub provider of vaccines, APH now allows all Texas residents age 18 and up to sign up for appointments.

The decision to expand registration windows came after APH saw a drop in demand for appointments this week. On April 12, the provider saw more than 10,000 available appointments go unfilled and offered more registration opportunities April 13 and April 15 to fill the remaining slots.

According to local officials, the change—a marked difference from several weeks ago, when thousands remained in queues for available appointments without getting on—is not a sign of vaccine hesitancy, but a sign that supply has caught up with demand.

“I don’t think we have an issue of people not wanting the vaccine. I think we’ve reached that stage where supply and demand are in equilibrium, and that’s okay,” said Mark Escott, Austin-Travis County interim public health authority, at an April 16 news conference.

APH President Stephanie Hayden-Howard said the time has come for APH to shift its strategy to direct community outreach, embracing the organization’s role as a “safety net provider.”


“We’re going to start going into the neighborhood more, working in apartment complexes, being in community centers and changing our hours of operation. We must be flexible. Our goal is to provide vaccines to our community and meet them where they are,” Hayden-Howard said.

Additionally, APH will also now offer second doses to anyone who has received their first dose of the Moderna vaccine, according to APH Assistant Director Cassanra De Leon. This will allow individuals who have traveled out of town to receive vaccines to find a second dose locally.

Now that the community has easier access to vaccines, APH representatives say its focus—and that of the 350-plus additional local vaccine providers—must be on establishing herd immunity, with at least around 70% of residents vaccinated.

“It’s going to be a challenge for us, but we can certainly reach herd immunity here. Looking at some of the national surveys about vaccine hesitancy, Austin and Travis County performed better than anywhere else in the state of Texas, with 85% of respondents indicating their desire to be vaccinated,” Escott said. “But real herd immunity requires global herd immunity, and that's what's going to be a more difficult task to achieve.”
By Olivia Aldridge
Olivia is the reporter for Community Impact's Central Austin edition. A graduate of Presbyterian College in upstate South Carolina, Olivia was a reporter and producer at South Carolina Public Radio before joining Community Impact in Austin.


MOST RECENT

Austin Bouldering Project currently operates a gym on Springdale Road in Austin. (Courtesy Austin Bouldering Project)
Local rock-climbing gym to open new location in South Austin this fall

The new gym will have comparable offerings to the original in East Austin.

Tents have become a common sight throughout Austin including along Cesar Chavez Street downtown, but with the passage of Proposition B the city may now consider moving unsheltered homeless individuals to designated sites. (Ben Thompson/Community Impact Newspaper)
Austin City Hall notebook: Designated campsites for the homeless are back on the table

City staff had previously dismissed developing official camping locations in 2019, but new directives from City Council this week could revive the concept in Austin.

Wag-A-Bag is headquartered in Round Rock. (Megan Cardona/Community Impact Newspaper)
Wag-A-Bag to operate under new ownership, name; Austin, TxDOT at odds over I-35 overhaul; and more top Central Texas news

Read the most popular business and community news from the past week from the Austin area.

The Highland Tech Center is an office complex that finished redevelopment in March. (Courtesy Aquila Commercial)
North Central Austin business news: Office complex opens in Highland, picnic meals offered in the parks and more

Mes Amis is an outdoor dining service that provides baskets with French-style cuisine for picnics. Two new fitness studios, Hive + Honey and Regymen, are also now open.

Stephanie Hayden-Howard will become an assistant city manager in Austin on May 10. (Jack Flagler/Community Impact Newspaper)
Role changes coming for health officials leading Austin-Travis County COVID-19 efforts

Dr. Desmar Walkes will take over as Austin's next medical director and local health authority as Dr. Mark Escott and Stephanie Hayden-Howard transition to new roles with the city.

Barton Springs Pool, shown here in March 2020, will require reservations for residents wishing to visit after 8 a.m. starting on May 17. (Community Impact Newspaper staff)
Barton Springs Pool will require reservations starting May 21

Visitors who want to visit the pool after 8 a.m. will have to make a reservation for a two-hour block of time.

Road closure stock image
TxDOT to demolish I-35 ramp in North Austin early Saturday morning

State crews will perform controlled implosions of the northbound I-35 to northbound US 183 flyover between 6-8 a.m. in the morning on May 8 and May 15.

A pilot Austin Police Department cadet class is now set to commence in June under an updated training regimen and with additional city and community oversight on the APD academy's culture and curriculum. (John Cox/Community Impact Newspaper)
Austin City Council votes to restart APD cadet training in June, with framework for ongoing reviews of pilot academy

The Austin Police Department's 144th cadet class will now kick off training next month, with continued oversight of APD's instruction and culture throughout the 34-week academy process.

Holland Photo Imaging celebrates 40 years in business this year. (Courtesy Holland Photo Imaging)
The latest business news in South Central Austin

1. Holland Photo Imaging, located at 2125 Goodrich Ave., Ste. A, Austin, is celebrating its 40th anniversary in the community this year. Founded in 1981 by Pete Holland, the business has been owned by residents Brian and Morgan Morrison since 2006. Holland Photo Imaging offers film processing, printing, framing, photo restoration and archiving services. 512-442-4274. www.hollandphoto.com

A sign advertises a property for rent in Austin on May 6. Local eviction orders remain in place through August 1 protecting most tenants from eviction. (Jack Flagler/Community Impact Newspaper)
Local eviction moratoriums remain in effect despite federal judge’s decision

The May 5 ruling from a U.S. District Court judge striking down a federal moratorium does not affect orders in place in Austin or Travis County.