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How to join Harris County's online COVID vaccine waitlist

Harris County launched a new COVID-19 vaccination portal Tuesday. After some technical issues, the website was back online Wednesday and taking applications.

HARRIS COUNTY, Texas — Harris County Public Health launched a new COVID-19 vaccination portal on Tuesday, but it was taken down for several hours due to a technical issue.

As of Wednesday morning, the website was back online and taking applications.

The portal allows residents, even those not in Phase 1A or 1B, to be placed on a waitlist and contacted once vaccines and appointments are available.

In order to ensure fair access for elderly residents, working families and vulnerable populations, registrants on the waitlist will instead be selected through a combination prioritization and randomization process, in accordance with state guidelines. Older residents will get higher priority.

ALSO READ: How to get a COVID vaccine in the Houston area | County-by-county list

Remember — it is not first-come, first-serve. Everyone will have plenty of time to sign up. The only variable that may prevent you from putting yourself in the database is if you have had a severe reaction to any vaccine in the past, as per guidance from the CDC.

While you can sign up, remember only individuals who fall under the DSHS Phase 1A and 1B category will be eligible to actually receive the vaccine at this stage. Those residents will be prioritized as more doses become available.

How to access the portal and sign up

  • Link to the portal: The portal with the waitlist signup is now online here —   https://vacstrac.hctx.net/landing (NOTE: The website has been having technical issues.)
  • Need to call? Residents without internet access can also call 832-927-8787 to be placed on the waitlist.
  • More info from the county:  You can also visit ReadyHarris.org for more info on vaccines and testing in Harris County.

Tuesday's website outage

Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo's office released this statement about the downtime:

"Despite some downtime since the launch of the portal at noon, we have registered over 49,000 people. We’ll continue to work in the coming days to identify and improve the registration process to ensure we continue to support an efficient, fair, and equitable process for allocating vaccines. Residents who were not able to join the waitlist today should try again in the coming days. In anticipation of overwhelming demand and technical issues, we built a system that is not first-come, first-served. If someone signs up tomorrow or next week they have the same chance of being selected as someone that signed up today."

Remember, it's not first come first serve

In order to be fair to everyone, Hildalgo said the system will no longer use a first-come, first-served process for appointments.

“Getting a COVID-19 vaccine shouldn’t be like the Hunger Games, it shouldn’t be about who can hit refresh on a browser the fastest. It shouldn’t be about who has special knowledge about when exactly a registration link will open," Hidalgo said before announcing the new system. "It shouldn’t be about who has the time to sit there and check all day while those who work long hours are put at a disadvantage.”

"This does not mean we've received massive stockpiles of vaccine," Hidalgo said Monday. "It's going to take time for those on this waitlist to be contacted for an appointment."

Ineligible residents will still be placed on the waitlist but will not be contacted to schedule an appointment until Texas expands or changes its requirements.

Harris County currently has two vaccination sites but they're working to expand to six and adding a mobile site.

The county is also working on creating a waitlist for standby patients at the sites to ensure that no vaccines go to waste.