January 22, 2021

Sambaad Patra

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High demand for vaccine appointments overwhelms Houston COVID call center – Houston Chronicle

2 min read

The Houston Health Department said it was experiencing technical issues on Saturday morning as people seeking an appointment for the city’s first COVID-19 vaccination clinic — which had 750 doses available for the day — overwhelmed the call center, officials said.

“The volume of calls to our COVID19 call center overwhelmed the system and it’s currently experiencing technical issues,” the department tweeted roughly an hour after phone lines opened. “We’re actively working to resolve this issue and will provide an update as soon as possible. We apologize for the inconvenience.”

Mayor Sylvester Turner said the health department will move to on-site registration instead. Traffic management is being put in place. People who qualify for a vaccine and are interested in getting one should go to the Bayou City Event Center, 9401 Knight Road, to receive an appointment time.

The health department and Turner announced Friday that the city would open its first free vaccination clinic on Saturday to expand access to residents at high risk for severe health consequences from the disease, including the elderly.

On HoustonChronicle.com: ‘It’s looking bad’: COVID numbers in Houston continue to spike, even before full impact of holidays

The city instructed people to call the health department’s COVID-19 call center at 832-393-4220 between 7:30 a.m. and 4 p.m. Saturday to get the location and an appointment time.

An hour after the phone lines opened, however, the system was overwhelmed and the phone line crashed.

“If the problem cannot be resolved within the next 30 minutes, we will go to an alternative plan and let you know. Please be patient,” Turner said.

People should monitor social media for updates, city officials said.

The clinic will offer a dose of the Moderna vaccine for people over the age of 65, those with at least one chronic medical condition and frontline healthcare workers.

The health department said it will announce more free vaccination opportunities “as supply increases.” The department received its first 3,000 doses and began administering them Dec. 28, city officials said.

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