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Austin Public Health launches online portal to register for COVID-19 vaccine

Austin Public Health will prioritize administering the vaccine to groups 1A and 1B, living in at-risk areas of the city.

AUSTIN, Texas — Austin Public Health (APH) launched an online vaccine portal on Wednesday, Jan. 13, to help distribute the COVID-19 vaccine to Austin residents, particularly those in at-risk areas. 

The online portal will allow residents to pre-register and request appointments at one of four APH hubs easily accessible via public transportation. These locations are strategically placed so people in underserved communities can access the vaccine. The locations will only be available to those with scheduled appointments.

At a briefing Jan. 13, APH confirmed that more than 20,000 people in Austin and Travis County have already pre-registered to get the vaccine.

APH Director Stephanie Hayden said that for anyone who has scheduled to be tested before through APH, use those credentials for the vaccine portal.

Hayden said in the press briefing on Wednesday that vaccination site locations would be released on Thursday, Jan. 14. She also said that APH had multiple plans ready for smaller-scale and large-scale distribution of its 12,000 doses of the vaccine.  

"What is going to be essential for us, we know that our plans are scalable," Hayden said. "We have viewed several sites and we are waiting to establish smaller-scale as well as large-scale events ... even having the ability to drive-through locations, etc."

"In a city like Austin, where grocery stores and pharmacies are located on the west side of town and we don't have as many of those located on the east side of town, that kind of distribution then geographically skews where the vaccine is," Mayor Steve Adler told KVUE Daybreak on Monday

RELATED: H-E-B launching COVID-19 vaccine registration portal

At this time, it is important to remember that not everyone who fits the Texas Department of State and Health Services and APH criteria will be able to get the vaccine through this first large allocation from DSHS. 

If you can get a vaccine through your healthcare provider, a pharmacy, or another provider, please help us save the currently limited allocation for our most vulnerable populations. A map of providers is available on the DSHS website. 

During the DSHS distribution this week, the department allocated 12,000 vaccines to APH. 

APH is prioritizing people in groups 1A, which consists of health care workers and long-term care facilities, and 1B, with people ages 65+ or people with pre-existing health conditions.

How the pre-registration process works, according to APH:

  • Create an account at AustinTexas.gov/COVID-19-Vaccines
  • Pre-register for COVID-19 Vaccine.
    • You will answer a few questions about yourself, vaccine reaction, and insurance information. Information provided will determine your eligibility for vaccination. 
    • You will not be asked about your immigration status. 
  • When eligible for an APH vaccine, you will be contacted to schedule an appointment.
    • There will be a phased roll-out of the COVID-19 vaccine with a very limited supply at the beginning. Austin Public Health follows Texas Department of State Health Services guidelines to determine eligibility. 
    • Vaccine information will be sent to IMMTRAC Texas Immunization Registry, and then used to notify of you of your vaccine appointment availability, and for the required follow up appointment to receive the second record dosage of vaccine. 
    • Information you give during pre-registration is private and confidential by law and will be maintained with confidence. 
  • Vaccination is free.

Mayor Adler said there are people with less access to healthcare and pharmacies in East Austin. The more vaccines they get from the state, the more the City can help those most at risk.

RELATED: Austin Public Health asks for patience as it works through long lines and vaccine technical glitches

"We've indicated to them that we could probably get out more vaccine more quickly to people that are most in need, most at risk and deliver it," he said.

However, the APH's ability to distribute doses is determined by responding to the current surge in cases. The agency may have to take resources away from vaccine distribution to manage testing sites and care for patients.

Leaders with APH said if you don't have internet, you can register for the vaccine by calling Austin Public Health at 512-972-5560.

Hayden also issued a message to the public, saying those who do not have an appointment should not expect a vaccination if they just walk up. 

On Thursday, APH clarified that users on the site may see messaging that there is no availability within 100 miles. This means the user has successfully pre-registered, but no more vaccine appointments are available at the time due to significant demand.

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