Relieved Houstonians celebrate widened vaccine access

Booker T. Washington High School saw a long line Monday, making vaccines available without advanced registration.

Video Transcript

CHAUNCY GLOVER: The mad rush for the COVID-19 vaccines as today marks the first day where everyone here in Texas 16 and older can get the vaccine if they want to. That's about 22 million Texans we're talking about. So far, 7.1 million Texans have received one dose. 3.6 million Texans are now fully vaccinated. That's about 12.7% of Texas's 29 million population.

Now, 6 in 10 seniors have received one dose, and 4 in 10 seniors are fully vaccinated as well. The state will receive more than 1 million doses this week, but it's still difficult to secure an appointment. ABC 13's Steve Campion is here picking up our coverage.

STEVE CAMPION: Hey, Chauncy. It's a happy day here at Booker T. Washington High School. I witnessed people crying, smiling, and even dancing after receiving their COVID-19 vaccine. Here, it was Johnson & Johnson. Both the City of Houston and Harris County tell me that they can increase their vaccination efforts if more supply comes online.

[MUSIC - DJ CASPER, "CHA CHA SLIDE"]

DJ CASPER: Check it out, y'all. How low can you go?

STEVE CAMPION: Music filled the air outside this high school in Houston's Independent Heights. People didn't need to be on a wait list; they just signed up on the spot and received a COVID-19 vaccine.

- I feel so blessed [INAUDIBLE] right now.

- We feel awesome now.

- I've signed with three different places, and so I thought this was a good idea. So I didn't know it was gonna be just one, so it's even better.

- Yeah, I was on several wait lists, and I hadn't heard anything back yet. So when I saw this on the news last night, I thought, well, this is perfect. I don't have to wait, and I can just go get in line.

STEVE CAMPION: More than 370,000 people remain on Harris County Public Health's waitlist. Judge Lina Hidalgo told me that's down from a high of around 750,000.

LINA HIDALGO: We have seen an increase in the number of people registering for the waitlist. As long as people want that vaccine, we have evidence, and we're gonna continue pushing our federal partners to send us more vaccines. Right now, we are waiting on an answer from them as to whether we're gonna be able to keep our FEMA site.

STEVE CAMPION: At the City of Houston, they transitioned away from their waitlist and plan to open appointments as soon as they receive supply, saying the best way to get alerted is to sign up online.

- Right now, we have sites where we offer 1,000 vaccines per day, other sites 2,000. And hopefully, we can get more shipments, and that way, we can increase to at least 3,000 per site per day. And so hopefully, that will happen, and more of our community will be vaccinated. We need to get to herd immunity.

STEVE CAMPION: So the good news right now is that they are seeing more supply here in Southeast Texas. But if you're watching right now and you are over the age of 80 or if you have a family member who's over the age of 80, the City of Houston, along with a lot of these providers, continue to prioritize those elderly people. In the City of Houston, you can call a special phone number. That number is 832-393-4301, 832-393-4301. And hopefully, they should move those individuals to the front of the line.