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(Austin Regional Clinic)

Travis County's COVID-19 operations are playing catch-up on a week's worth of canceled vaccine appointments.

Austin Public Health's vaccine and testing appointments were halted for over 7 days due to the historic winter storm that swept over Texas. By the time operations resumed on Sunday, APH had 7,000 first doses and 7,500 second doses unused from the week of Feb. 7 as well as 12,000 second doses from Feb. 14 to catch up on; 3,300 patients had appointments canceled starting Feb. 13.


While about 1,000 doses of the vaccine were lost in Texas, Austin Public Health Director Stephanie Hayden-Howard said that no vaccine doses were lost during the weeklong winter storm in Austin even as locations lost power.

"In one of our locations the power and the backup generator went out," Hayden-Howard said. "Thank goodness to the EMS and Fire Department folks. They were able to pick up our staff and get us to where we were able to move all of our vaccines."

As the department looks to recover, APH has extended hours and days of operation for its current locations. APH is still prioritizing those looking to get second doses, although the CDC has recently said that second doses are still effective no matter the time in between vaccinations.

Normal operations at all of APH's sites resumed on Monday. Hayden-Howard said that APH will be able to complete 37,000 vaccinations this week. Those whose appointments were canceled will be contacted by email or phone to reschedule.

Hayden-Howard said she understands the week ahead will be difficult but that the department will make sure everyone receives their missed doses.

"We understand this week is going to be challenging because we are essentially folding in everyone from last week," Hayden-Howard said. I know we're always asking for patience, but we're just wanting folks to know that we will provide your vaccine to you."

Travis County Judge Andy Brown and three other area judges have teamed up to plan the Austin area's first-ever mass vaccination event this weekend. More information on the upcoming project can be found here.

The department has currently distributed 56,000 total COVID-19 vaccines.

Before the winter storm, many became frustrated that second doses were not being shipped into the county on schedule. The Texas Department of Health and Human Services has responded by stating it will automatically ship second doses four weeks after the first dose is distributed in order to ease scheduling issues. The state determines how many second doses will be given to APH.

Because of the weeklong interruption, the COVID data collected during the winter storm may not accurately reflect the community's actual state of emergency. As a result, the city will not change its risk-based guidelines from Stage 4 restrictions that were in place before the winter storm.

Hayden-Howard announced that a new website has also been created for Central Texas vaccine information. The website was partially created by Travis County staff and will provide information on vaccination hubs, vaccine providers and volunteer opportunities.

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