Hays County COVID-19 vaccine slots fill quickly after portal opened at noon


HAYS COUNTY, Texas (KXAN) — Some reported seeing issues with the Hays County vaccine portal shortly after it opened sign-ups for slots at noon Friday.

“I was poised at the computer, as if it were an eBay auction,” said Norman Sanders.

The 72-year-old Wimberley resident said he was able to get to a page showing appointment slots but said when he submitted his choice, he received an error message.

“It seems to me improbable that all 2,000 appointments would have been consumed in the first 10 seconds. Most people can’t even operate the keyboard that quickly,” Sanders said.

He believes the website failed.

“The user was led to believe it was broken or locked out, refresh required. And in reality they were already gone,” said Hays County Judge Ruben Becerra.

Becerra says the website did not fail — the error messages were a result of filled up slots.

“That’s a frustration builder that I will make sure we communicate with the people that managed the software reservation machine,” Becerra said.

Earlier this week, Becerra said once the slots are filled, that’s it — at least for now. He said there are no plans for the county to create a waitlist. The judge said there are just too many variables.

“Unfortunately, we have not been comforted enough at this time to create a waitlist that is useful and productive and easy to manage for the community simply to say, ‘I’m on, what is now I’m being told very often, yet another waitlist.’ Folks are getting on the waitlist as far as I can see them.”

He said this could change down the line if they begin to receive more shipments of the vaccine.

“If our doses change, if our deliveries increase then we will change the process, but we have well-vetted plans to dispense vaccines from very low quantities to thousands a day,” he said. “We have the capacity, we have the volunteer base, and we have the desire from the community — put us in coach.”

After Friday’s sign up portal filled in minutes, Becerra doubled down on his decision to not create a waitlist for Hays County. Instead, he’s now urging people to sign up with Austin Public Health.

“If someone from Hays County wants to get on a waitlist, we have Austin Public Health managing it. We are still under their umbrella,” Becerra said.

Sanders hopes the judge reconsiders.

“You have no choice but to wait until the county decides that they’re going to open the window again. And then we’ve got yet another stampede, that is going to play out exactly like the previous two have. I don’t think it’s smart,” he said.

Another round of COVID-19 vaccines will make its way to Hays County next week. At present, there are 2,358 active cases across the county, and county leaders are expecting 1,950 doses of the vaccine to arrive next week.

This week, volunteers with Rep. Erin Zwiener’s office spent hours making phone calls to people over 65 informing them of today’s portal opening.

Becerra said the county will block off a certain number of vaccines for people who don’t have internet access or unable to use a computer. He did not say how many slots they would hold. He urges people who have internet access not to call. He said please leave that just for people who don’t have internet access.

“Leave the phone line for those who don’t have internet or aren’t tech-savvy,” Becerra said. “If you have access to the internet, don’t call. Leave that line for the 95-year-old that doesn’t know anything about Google.”

The number is (512) 938-1650.

Hays County will administer nearly 2,000 doses of the vaccine over two days starting Monday in Kyle.

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