Harris County residents seeking a COVID-19 vaccine will no longer be required to sign up for a waitlist effective immediately, Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo said in an April 16 press conference.
Instead, vaccines will be made available on demand, and those who sign up will be asked to pick a date, time and location to be vaccinated as soon at they register, Hidalgo said . The county will have a vaccine supply of 55,000 for the week of April 19, she said.
"If you’ve not been vaccinated, this is your time," Hidalgo said.
The change in the system was announced as Hidalgo said demand for vaccines is falling and is expected to soon be in line with supply for the first time. Public health officials have estimated that roughly 70% of the population needs to be vaccinated to reach herd immunity, and about 25% of Harris County residents have been vaccinated so far.
Research shows about 40% of Americans are hesitant to get vaccinated.
Hidalgo attributed the drop in vaccine demand to a combination of factors, including misinformation spreading on social media and the recent pause announced by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on administering the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. Harris County also stopped administering the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, and anyone who made an appointment for one has been switched to receive either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, officials said.
The county adopted several outreach initiatives in February to try to boost awareness about the vaccines, including a media campaign that involved radio ads, knocking on doors and sending information through the mail. The county is also running a pilot program to bring vaccines to the houses of people who cannot get to a vaccination center.
Public health officials will also continue sending mobile vaccination units to ZIP codes with low vaccination rates and high COVID-19 incidences, Hidalgo said, as well as developing partnerships with community organizations to reach people.
The county administers vaccines at a variety of locations, including at a mass vaccination site at NRG Stadium. Drive-thru locations will also be in operation between April 20-23 at Legacy Stadium, 1830 Katyland Drive, Katy, and at Stallworth Stadium, 2102 E. Archer Road, Baytown, according to an April 19 press release.
Meanwhile, several trends used to track the spread of the coronavirus—including testing positivity and hospitalizations—have plateaued after several weeks of decreasing and have slightly increased over the past few days.
Residents can register for a vaccine appointment at www.readyharris.org or by calling 832-927-8787.
COVID-19 vaccines now available on demand in Harris County
Harris County residents seeking a COVID-19 vaccine will no longer be required to sign up for a waitlist effective immediately. (Courtesy Texas Children’s Hospital)