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(Austin Public Health/Twitter)

Austin Public Health will release first dose COVID-19 vaccine appointments on a weekly basis starting Monday evening. The specific days and number of appointments made available will depend on the weekly allocation from the Texas Department of State Health Services.

Previously, APH released first dose appointments on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

The department is making this change in part due to feedback from residents, many of whom have reported difficulty navigating the city's pre-registration system. "It's an evolving system," APH Assistant Director Cassandra DeLeon said during a Friday press conference.

Depending on inventory, unplanned vaccine shipments and no-show rates, APH may release additional vaccine appointments on Thursday evenings. The bulk of vaccine appointments will be made available on Mondays.

APH made thousands of vaccine appointments available outside of its typical first-dose release schedule last week after staff caught up on the appointment backlog caused by recent winter storms more quickly than expected.

The department also implemented a queuing system in late February. When first dose appointments become available for scheduling, registrants are added to a queue and receive an estimate wait time until they are at the front of the line; at that point, they will have 10 minutes to make an appointment.

APH provided the following tips for hopeful vaccine recipients:

  • Appointments are only available to those in the eligible groups. If you are unable to get into the queuing system, you are not currently eligible.
  • When it is your turn to make an appointment, the registration site may take you to the log in screen. If this happens, it does not mean you have lost your spot; you should log in and continue to schedule.
  • If you get stuck clicking "Next" when trying to make an appointment, it means too many people are choosing that time slot. Click on the home icon in the upper left corner and click "Schedule, Reschedule, Cancel at FIRST Dose Vaccine" to find a new time slot. Do not click the back button on your browser.
  • Enable all cookies when in the queue, which APH says will help hold your place in line if you are logged out.

Despite being a designated hub provider, APH continues to field much more demand for vaccine appointments than its available supply. Around 218,000 eligible people were registered on the department's waitlist, Director Stephanie Hayden-Howard said Friday. With a weekly shipment of 12,000 first doses allocated by the state, the department is only about to vaccinate around 5.5% of those eligible registrants each week.

Supply is improving, however. The FDA recently granted an emergency use authorization to Johnson & Johnson's single-shot vaccine, which quickly translated into larger allocations for the state—and Travis County, in turn. With more local providers now receiving shipments of the vaccine, APH encourages eligible residents to regularly check appointment availability at their pharmacy and doctor's offices.


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