The Texas Department of State Health Services has launched an online portal matching people with an appointment to get vaccinated against COVID-19.
The Texas Public Health Vaccine Scheduler will “let people sign up to be vaccinated at vaccine clinics hosted by DSHS or a number of participating local health departments,” said Imelda Garcia, an associate commissioner for DSHS.
Garcia said local health departments that already have their own scheduling system will continue using their own systems.
“But it will bring centralized sign up for public health providers in some rural and smaller and medium-sized towns and cities,” she said.
The online scheduler was announced as Texas opened up eligibility for COVID vaccines to everyone over the age of 16 on Monday. It allows Texans to list preferences for where they would like to be vaccinated, as well as when and what time in the day. The system then works to match people with appointments as they become available.
Nancy Ejuma, deputy associate commissioner in the Division for Regional and Local Health Operations for DSHS, said expanded eligibility and an increase in the number of vaccines coming to Texas made this an “opportune” time to centralize appointments.
“The primary goal is to ensure that we have a place to identify Texans who are ready and willing to receive the COVID-19 vaccine,” Ejuma said.
She said the scheduler will allow the state to find clusters of people who want to be vaccinated but don’t have easy access to the vaccine. As people sign up and provide demographic data, it will give the state a better picture of where there is need.
“This will allow us to plan for the deployment of vaccines to those jurisdictions and identify communities where we can essentially host vaccination events, create appointments and match those appointments with individuals who are ready to receive the vaccine,” Ejuma said.
A phone number has also been created for those who want to enroll in the vaccine scheduler but have trouble accessing the scheduler online or don’t have internet access. Those individuals can call 1-833-832-7067 from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. seven days a week to get help making an appointment.