HOUSTON - On Saturday, Houston’s first public COVID-19 vaccine location opened on the city’s Southside. City and state leaders believe this could be one of the first public Coronavirus vaccine locations to open in the country.
"Houston may be the very first city of this size to setup a massive distribution of vaccines," said Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee. "I believe that deserves an applause."
The site, located off Knight Road in South Houston, had a long line of cars surrounding the parking lot early Saturday morning.
"The goal will be to get these vaccines out as quickly as we get them" said Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner.
The free Coronavirus shots were originally planned to be given to people who made appointments over the phone. However, the Houston Health Department quickly had to change their plan after being overwhelmed with calls.
Within an hour of opening their call center, the Houston Health Department tweeted, "The volume of calls to our COVID19 call center overwhelmed the system and it’s currently experiencing technical issues…"
"Call-in centers across the board received about 250,000 calls today," said Mayor Turner. "The system was literally overwhelmed, so we went to Plan-B. Plan B was on-site registration."
"Seven out of 10 people who die from COVID are 65 years and older," said Houston Health Department Director Stephen Williams. ‘If you look in line, we’re actually seeing those folks, and I’m grateful for that."
Texas recently started Phase 1B of the state’s COVID-19 vaccine distribution plan. Now, front-line medical works, people at least 65 years-old, or adults with chronic health issues can get vaccinated.
"Even though there’s a lot of vaccine hesitancy, there’s still a strong desire from people to get the vaccine," said Mayor Turner.
According to Mayor Turner, he hopes to have the City of Houston open a mass distribution location for Coronavirus shots by the end of the week.
"The New York Mayor announced that they were going to try to do 1-million vaccines in the month of January," said Mayor Turner. "I think we can do the same thing in the month of January. I’d like to do even more than that."