As the COVID-19 pandemic rages on, Texas has opened vaccine eligibility to everyone age 16 and older. But tracking down an available vaccine appointment has been quite challenging for many. Now the state is rolling out a new scheduling system to help ease those difficulties.
On March 29, the Texas Department of State Health Services launched its Texas Public Health Vaccine Scheduler, which gives Texans wanting the COVID-19 vaccine one place to sign up for the shot through multiple public health departments. That includes eight DSHS public health regions providing services in nearly 200 Texas counties and more than a dozen local health entities throughout the state.
DSHS directs Texas residents to visit getthevaccine.dshs.texas.gov to create a personal profile that includes the person’s contact info, demographic specifics, and their preferred time of day and days of the week for a vaccine appointment. DSHS claims that within a day, eligible Texans will be matched with the next available appointment in their home county at one of their chosen appointment times.
Should no appointments be available meeting those criteria, the scheduler will continue to look for vaccine appointments as new clinics are scheduled, and then contact Texans when they have secured an appointment.
DSHS recognizes not all Texans will be able to use the online scheduling tool, so it has also set up a toll-free phone number — 1-833-832-7067 — which will be available from 7 am to 7 pm seven days a week. There, Texans can enroll in the scheduler and get help making a vaccine appointment.
For Texans who do not have a participating health department in their area, the DSHS scheduler may refer them to other local providers holding vaccination clinics near them.
The public health entities participating in the DSHS Texas Public Health Vaccine Scheduler program include:
- DSHS Public Health Regions
- City of Garland Health Department
- Rockwall County Health Authority
- Parker County Health Authority
- Bastrop County Health Authority
- Cameron County Emergency Management
- Hays County Local Health Department
- City of Laredo Health Department
- LaSalle County Regional Health Authority
- Lavaca County Health Authority
- Marshall-Harrison County Health District
- San Angelo-Tom Green County Health Department
- Throckmorton Rural Health Clinic
- Uvalde Health Authority
While the vaccine scheduler is likely to be helpful for many Texans on the hunt for a COVID-19 vaccine, DSHS readily admits it will not replace all COVID-19 vaccine registration in Texas.
“Many entities — including pharmacies, medical practices and some public health departments — are operating their own registration systems and will continue to do so,” DSHS says. “People who want to be vaccinated should continue to look for available vaccine at those providers as well.”