Thursday, January 14, 2021

Austin Public Health Asks for Patience as COVID-19 Vaccine Rollout Continues



For immediate release: January 14, 2021
Contact: Austin-Travis County Joint Information System, 512-974-0699, hsempio@austintexas.gov

 
Austin Public Health Asks for Patience as COVID-19 Rollout Continues

APH is working through technical issues and staffing limitations as we seek to vaccinate vulnerable residents as quickly as possible 
Austin, Texas – Austin Public Health (APH) is asking the public to be patient as we continue to provide the COVID-19 vaccine to our community. APH received a shipment of 12,000 vaccines from the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) on Monday, and we are aiming to have all of the vaccines out by Saturday. This has required APH and other partner departments and organizations to stand up operations incredibly quickly, and there have been some hiccups along the way, but we are optimistic that the process has begun.  

This is the first week of operating a pilot vaccine handed down by the state and the largest allocation of vaccine to APH to date. 

"We understand there is frustration with technical issues, staffing limitations, and the novelty of the program that we have seen this week," said Stephanie Hayden-Howard, APH Director. "We hope people can understand that we are seeking to get this vaccine to the people who need it most as quickly and efficiently as we can. Ultimately, we are very happy to see that people overwhelmingly want to get vaccinated, and we hope to soon be able to provide the vaccine to more people."

APH IT teams have been working around the clock through technical issues that occurred due to overwhelming demand. These issues should resolve themselves as people begin to sign up on a more rolling basis.  
 
Additionally, some people completed pre-registration and saw a screen prompting them to sign up for the vaccine but showed that no appointments were available. This happens because there were no appointments left to schedule, however, individuals who made it to that page have successfully pre-registered and do not need to take any further action. Other glitches are being addressed, and we ask for your patience as we work through them.  
 
Along with patience, we ask that the community still remain vigilant with protecting themselves against COVID-19, as that will help APH manage its resources. APH employees tirelessly dedicate themselves to many simultaneous jobs at the moment such as case investigations, staffing/scheduling free testing sites, data collection/reporting on ICUs, hospitalizations, death, data reporting, coordinating a place to stay of you can't isolate safely at home when positive, PPE distributions and monitoring patient overflow because too many people decided to stop distancing and wear masks. 
 
"City and County staff are doing an incredible job with the resources that they have," said Cassandra De Leon, APH Interim Assistant Director. "We are so thankful to them for standing up a huge operation so quickly. It's important to remember that we are still in a state of surge, and the same people who are doing case investigations, data entry, COVID testing, and other emergency functions are now adding to their workload by helping with the vaccine operations. We are also thankful to local partners who are volunteering to assist us with efforts moving forward, and we hope that they will be able to help us manage vaccinating large numbers of people in the future while also managing the other emergency operations elements of the COVID-19 response." 
 
Individuals who have pre-registered do not need to continue to call our hotline or log in to the site to see if new appointments are available. They will be proactively contacted if more vaccine becomes available to APH and if they meet the 1A or 1B qualifications.  
 
"It is nothing short of miracle that less than a year after our first case of this deadly virus that we have incredibly effective vaccines," said Dr. Mark Escott, Interim Austin-Travis County Health Authority. "We understand that many people want and need to be vaccinated, but this will take time. Our allocation this week covers less than 1 percent of Travis County residents. However, each day more vaccine is going into the community and that is incredibly exciting. Vaccine is not the only effective tool against COVID-19. Masking, social distancing and hand hygiene are proven effective. We can all use those today to prevent the spread of the virus while we get as many vaccines out as we can." 
 
At this time, APH does not know if it is receiving additional vaccine from the Texas Department of State Health Services.  

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