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Austin Public Health will pilot first drive-thru COVID vaccine site this weekend

South University nursing student Kimberly Pham prepares to administer the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine to central Texans lined up at a drive-through clinic on Jan. 21. (Bob Daemmrich)

Austin Public Health will host its first drive-thru COVID-19 vaccine site at the Toney Burger Center in Sunset Valley on Saturday and expects to vaccinate 1,500 people at the event.


APH coordinates vaccine appointments through its pre-registration system, which can be found here. Available slots for Friday and Saturday will be released on Thursday evening starting at 6 p.m. after technical issues interrupted the department's Monday drop. The department is currently prioritizing registrants in groups 1A and 1B as well as educators.

All of APH's vaccine sites have so far been walk-in operations. Drive-thru sites are much more labor-intensive, requiring nearly three times as many staff and volunteers to operate, according to the department. APH practiced drive-thru vaccine operations last November at a flu shot event at the Travis County Expo Center.

Since being designated a hub provider by the Texas Department of State Health Services in January, APH has received 12,000 initial doses of the vaccine each week. Because of its limited supply, APH will reallocate vaccine doses from other sites to supply the drive-thru event.

APH has the capacity to vaccinate up to 3,000 people per day at the drive-thru site and 37,000 people each week at all of its sites combined, according to a Thursday news release.

Travis County, in partnership with Ascension Seton, CommUnity Health Centers and Bastrop, Caldwell and Hays counties, has hosted a drive-thru vaccination site on weekends at the Circuit of the Americas since late February. The clinics have focused on CommUnityCare's existing patient network, which is largely uninsured or underinsured, and regional school district staff.

Providers in other jurisdictions have stood up drive-thru vaccine clinics in recent weeks, including Baylor Scott & White in College Station, the Houston Health Department and Denton County.

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