WilCo takes over vaccine waitlist from FHS

If you are in one of 210,000 people in Williamson County in the two categories approved to get a coronavirus vaccine and have yet to sign up for a place in line, there’s a new way to register.

Williamson County Judge Bill Gravell announced in a Monday press conference that the county would assume control of the Covid-19 waiting list from Family Hospital Systems (FHS).

“Everyone who is registered will be imported into the new list,” Gravell said. He said the FHS registration system already has “well over 100,000” people in line.

The new system, which is hosted on the county’s website at wilco.org, is more robust and will offer the opportunity to confirm registration status and also allow those who have already gotten a vaccine the chance to remove themselves from the county’s waitlist. The new registration form was live as this story was published.

Gravell was quick to note that the system cannot tell a registrant where they are in line, just that they have registered.

He said that the new system would help to reduce the number of people “jumping in line,” because the form includes “identifiers” that will help the county sort through the waitlist.

The state has designated people in Phase 1a as frontline health care workers and first responders. People in Pahse 1b are those 65 and older, or those 16 and older with qualifying medical condistions.

Gravell also said the county has put more resources into operations it tried to put into place last week to help people with questions about vaccinations. There are more people at the call center to answer questions and two new VRTAS sites will open to supplement the site already open at Sun City.

Gravel acknowledged that the phone line got off to a rocky start.

“The first couple of days we struggled to keep up with demand,” he said. On Friday, the county put more people into the call center which helped. “We definitely want to be there for all our residents who need someone to talk to on the phone.”

That number is 512-943-1600. It is manned Monday-Friday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Vaccine Registration Technical Assistance (VRTA) operations have been set up to help people who lack the technology needed to register for a place on the wait list and to help with some of the paperwork and registration necessary once a vaccine appointment has been confirmed.

A VRTAS location in Taylor was to begin operations on Tuesday. That site, which is at the First Baptist Church, 2500 Mallard Ln., will be open Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. The second site, which is in the gym at the Hill Country Bible Church in Cedar Park, will open next Monday and will be in operation Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

“We’re making progress,” he said about vaccinations, adding that 52,176 people in WilCO have received their first dose. He was unclear on how many people have received a second dose but, according to the Texas Department of State Health Services, 13,299 WilCo residents had received a second dose as of Sunday, Feb. 7.
Still, doses of the vaccine remain in short supply.

“There are 210,000 people in Williamson County in Phase 1a and 1b. That’s 420,000 doses. If we continue to get 8-10,00 doses a week, it’ll sometime in June sometime inJune before we finish that group. We’re in for a long slog. It would be helpful if we had more doses.”

Gravell said the county expects to distribute 9,700 doses this week. Vaccines will be given, by appointment, though the FHS drive-through mass-vaccination sites at Kelly Reeves Field and Georgetown High School’s athletic complex, and also to area nursing homes and long term care facilities.

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