The Federal Emergency Management Agency established an 11-lane drive-thru vaccine hub at NRG Stadium that will begin vaccinating a small number of residents Feb. 23 before scaling up to inoculating 6,000 residents per day beginning Feb. 24.
"I can’t say enough how important this site will be to the entire community. ...Texas is still a hot spot, and Texas has not moved from being a hot spot,” said U.S. Rep. Shelia Jackson Lee, D-Houston, at the opening preview of the site Feb. 22.
By the end of the six weeks, officials plan to fully inoculate 126,000 residents. Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo said the county is working to ensure the FEMA site will continue running after the initial six weeks, she said.
All doses at NRG Stadium will be administered in addition to the thousands of weekly doses offered by the Houston Health Department, Harris County Health Department and other providers to high-risk populations.
The site will operate seven days a week for three weeks administering first doses and then after three weeks switch to administering second doses. Los Angeles, New York City and Dallas are the only three other FEMA-led mass vaccination sites currently in operation across the U.S. Although the site will serve as a drive-thru, those without transportation may receive transportation through the county, although details are still influx, Hidalgo said.
Only those who meet state eligibility requirements will be able to receive vaccinations at the site. Those include residents over the age of 65 and those with chronic health conditions.
Officials from the Houston Health Department and the Harris County Department of Public Health will draw from their respective waitlists to schedule vaccine appointments at the FEMA site.
Harris County’s waitlist is open to anyone; however, the county is prioritizing scheduling appointments for those who live in one of ten “high-risk” ZIP codes determined by the county to have high case counts, death rates and socioeconomic vulnerabilities. Hidalgo said the waitlist currently has over 320,000 members.
“By focusing on these high-risk ZIP codes, we will be able to achieve equity,” Mayor Sylvester Turner said.
The Houston Health Department’s waitlist is only open to those over the age of 65 or over the age of 55 with chronic health conditions. The Houston Health Department will first prioritize residents in vulnerable ZIP codes over the age of 65 and between the ages of 55 and 64 with chronic health conditions, Mayor Sylvester Turner said. It will then prioritize those over the age of 65 and those between the ages of 55 and 64 with chronic health conditions who do not live in high-risk ZIP codes.
To sign up for the Harris County vaccine waitlist, call 832-927-8787, or visit www.publichealth.harriscountytx.gov. To sign up for the city of Houston waitlist, call 832-393-4301, or visit https://houstonemergency.org/covid-19-vaccines/.