Harris County is launching a new vaccine waitlist Tuesday that will allow eligible residents to sign up and be contacted when vaccine appointments become available.
The new system, which will be accessible online or via phone for county residents, will not distribute vaccines on a first-come, first-served basis, in order to provide more equity in distribution, Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo said at a Monday press conference.
The new system will use a random selection process for the vaccine, while also prioritizing health care workers and older residents, she said. Vaccines will continue to be prioritized for those within the 1A and 1B categories, which include health care workers, the elderly and people with chronic health conditions like diabetes and cancer.
“There’s ample time for registration,” Hidalgo said. “Within (the) randomization system the folks who are 1A will have priority over the folks who are 1B.”
Harris County residents will be able to start putting their name on the list by Tuesday afternoon, and can either sign up online, or call (832)927-8787. The waitlist will be available in English, Spanish and Vietnamese.
People who do not qualify under 1A or 1B can also add themselves to the list, though vaccines will not be made available to them until the state of Texas expands eligibility, which the county said would likely not be until at least the spring.
The waitlist comes as vaccination appointments have filled within minutes of going live, which Hidalgo said favors people who have internet access and the time to wait for appointments to open up.
Harris County Public Health receives about 9,000 vaccines each week, and supply continues to be extremely limited, Hidalgo said.