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COVID-19 vaccine appointment slots fill up in minutes

City officials say in less than 10 minutes after launching the site at 8 a.m. all available appointments for the week were taken.
Published: Jan. 11, 2021 at 4:36 PM CST|Updated: Jan. 12, 2021 at 12:11 AM CST
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LAREDO, Tex. (KGNS) - Thousands of Laredoans are left disappointed after COVID-19 vaccine appointments filled up within minutes.

It was previously reported that the Laredo Health Department would be using an online scheduling portal to give out the vaccines that were allocated to them. That site launched Monday morning.

It was a frustrating morning for many Laredoans.

“No one was answering the phone call at 8:05. Nobody was answering the phone and I went on the webpage at the same time.”

Thousands logged onto VaccinateLaredo.Com on Monday morning in hopes of signing up for a COVID vaccine appointment.

Carlos Morales was one of those who tried but failed.

“I got onto the website and it said nothing available, and then I called the city and finally answered and they said no more vaccines were available.”

Morales was not alone.

The Laredo health director Richard Chamberlain says many people logged on but were not able to get an appointment with the Health Department.

“All slots were filled within 9 minutes because of the high demand, similar to other Texas cities. If you did not receive a confirmation screen or email via the system your appointment was not scheduled.”

He adds all of this week’s appointments are filled.

The Health Department can only offer as many appointment slots as there are doses provided by the state.

City manager Robert Eads says the city only received 1,200 doses on Friday for this week’s distribution efforts.

“It was very quick and we knew that going in. But having about 1,200 doses and vaccines that we could put out we knew appointments would fill up quick. We’ll plan forward as we see more doses come in, in quantity. We will do more drives to get it to more people because that is the end goal.”

Many residents called KGNS saying they experienced a lag on the website.

The city says the site did not crash but improvements are being made.

“As people were putting in information they were allowed to select a time slot,” said Homero Vazquez-Garcia. “But as they were putting in the information the time slot got full. Therefore, they could not get a confirmation. We already spoke to our vendor about that to insure it does not happen in the future.”

The city says it will open more slots for qualified people on the portal once more vaccines become available.

In the meantime, city officials are hopeful the quantity of doses being sent to Webb County will increase soon.

“We are hopeful that our CVS, Walgreens, Walmarts and H-E-B’s come on board and have vaccines that are being sent to them by the Texas Department of State Health Services.”

Chamberlain says only one other local vaccine provider was allocated doses by the state for this week, which he says is Clear Choice ER with 200 vaccines.

Clear Choice ER told KGNS that online registration for its vaccine supply starts on Tuesday with appointments beginning on Wednesday.

To register for an appointment with Clear Choice ER, you can go to ClearChoiceER.com.

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