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Austin Public Health reopens appointments Thursday after technical issues as waitlist rises to 237K

APH said the technical issue resulted in only 2,300 appointments being scheduled on Monday.

AUSTIN, Texas — Austin Public Health (APH) opened COVID-19 vaccine appointments Thursday evening, days after the department's portal experienced technical issues.

After hours of trying to work around the technical issues on Monday night, Austin Public Health said it had paused its scheduling system.

On Tuesday, the City said in a statement the technical issues Monday night resulted in only 2,300 out roughly 10,000 appointments expected to be scheduled. As the City works with the vendor on addressing the problem, Austin Public Health is working to proactively schedule people who made it past the waiting room "and are also continuing to schedule through the Equity Line." 

The technical issues were the result a new program code, APH said. 

"We will continue to test the system to have a successful first dose appointment release on Thursday evening," APH said.

APH said the pre-queue for the first dose opened at 5:45 p.m. and the appointments were released at 6 p.m. 

The agency gave the following tips to those who fall into Phase 1A, 1B and 1C and want to get the vaccine through APH:

  • Appointments are only available to those in the 1A, 1B and 1C groups and educators and certified child care providers. If you are not able to get into the queuing system you are not eligible. If you believe you are eligible, submit this form.
  • When it is your turn, it may take you to the log in screen. If that happens, please log in and continue to schedule. You have not lost your spot.
  • If you get stuck clicking "Next" this means too many people are selecting that timeslot. Please click the home icon in the upper left corner and click "Schedule, Reschedule, Cancel a FIRST Dose Vaccine" to select a new timeslot. Do NOT click the back button in your browser
  • Make sure you are scheduling a COVID-19 vaccine and not a COVID-19 test. Testing sites do not have the vaccine.
  • Enable all cookies when in the queue. This will help hold your place in line if you are logged out. Cookies are small bits of information that help websites remember that you've logged in, or perhaps to store your personal preferences for that website.

The department released 4,500 appointments at 6 p.m.

Meanwhile, more than 237,000 eligible people are on Austin Public Health's waitlist for the vaccine. It's important to note that some of those people may have received the vaccine elsewhere since being placed on APH's waitlist.

APH's spokesperson Matt Lara said the department is revamping its portal and within a few days users should be able to be removed from the waitlist if they received the vaccine elsewhere.

"Some other changes that we're hoping to roll out of here fairly soon is a complete redesign and look of the portal to make it much easier to navigate," said Lara, "to understand that I'm scheduling a vaccine or scheduling a test, as well as be able to access your vaccination record." 

He added, "One of the other big things that we're hoping to roll out soon is the ability to tell Austin Public Health that 'I received my vaccine from somewhere else.'"

Prior to setting up an appointment, you will need to register for an account or sign in to your existing account. You will then pre-register for the vaccine before you can set up an appointment. Go here to see the steps needed in order to schedule a vaccine appointment through Austin Public Health.

"We are disappointed and share your frustration in the technical difficulties tonight and the time it wasted," APH said. "To make up for the unscheduled appointments, we likely need to add an additional day of appointment scheduling."

On Tuesday, KVUE spoke with people who said they waited for hours to get an appointment only to learn they wouldn't be getting one. 

"Frustrated, confused, angry and depressed," said Lawrence Heilman of his reaction to learning he wasn't getting a vaccine appointment. 

After the technical issues arose on Monday, KVUE asked APH if it had rethought the way it goes about vaccine sign-ups. 

"Since the implementation of the queue system, the previous releases have been fairly problem-free. However, we certainly understand the public still having difficulties accessing the vaccine, but with more than 235,000 eligible individuals registered in our system without an appointment and only receiving 12,000 first doses per week, the supply currently does not meet the demand," an APH spokesperson told KVUE. "We hope that as vaccine manufacturing and distribution ramps up and becomes more readily available from other providers in Travis County, that anyone who wants a vaccine will be able to get one. Additionally, many other local providers, such as pharmacies, have begun to receive smaller allocations – these providers can be found at vaccinefinder.org."

KVUE put together a list of providers in the Austin area, which you can find here.

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