A vaccine contractor is promising to do better after hundreds of people with appointments were turned away on Thursday, after waiting hours in line.
It happened at John Clark Stadium in Plano.
Collin County Commissioners held a special session to ask what went wrong and what’s being done to fix the issues.
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The lines to the COVID-19 vaccination hub at John Clark Stadium were once again long on Friday but running smoother than Thursday.
An estimated 750 people were suddenly turned away in the afternoon, despite waiting in line for hours and having a valid appointment.
“We’re just kind of being turned away without being given any explanation of what exactly happened,” said Kevin Hsieh on Thursday.
Collin County Commissioners held a special session on Friday afternoon, demanding answers.
“We need to explore the communication breakdown,” said Collin County Judge Chris Hill.
Want to Get on a Vaccine Waitlist?
As the state begins to distribute the COVID-19 vaccines for those in Phase 1A and 1B, county health departments have begun waitlists for those wish to be inoculated.
You can now register to recieve the vaccination in Collin, Dallas, Denton and Tarrant counties. Links are below:
You do not need to be a resident of the county to register for a COVID-19 vaccine in that county -- registration is open to anyone in Texas. For those without internet access, Tarrant County is also taking registrations by phone at 817-248-6299. In Dallas County, call the DCHHS vaccine hotline at 1-855-IMMUNE9 (1-855-466-8639). In Denton County, call 940-349-2585.
For a more detailed breakdown of who is included in each priority group in Texas, see this page from the Texas DSHS.
Curative, the private contractor hired to handle vaccination operations, told commissioners they faced several issues: from problems with the software used for people to register for a vaccine to a decision that was made to overbook appointments based on an estimation of people who may not show up or would cancel. However, most people showed up on Thursday.
A representative with the company told leaders someone with the county told staff to allow people showing up too early or even days ahead of their scheduled appointment through.
The issues and decisions led to long lines and concerns about ‘public safety,’ and depleted the vaccine supply on hand.
Curative acknowledged staff on-site made the decision to discontinue the vaccination clinic and began turning people away, in part because of the number of doses available and the dwindling daylight.
The decision to “cut off the line” was made at around 4 p.m. but vaccinations continued for a while.
Judge Hill pushed back saying when he arrived on the site, no one was being vaccinated and there was still plenty of light out.
Hill demanded the county be included in the decision-making process.
“Moving forward, I want you to do a better job of telling us when you shut the line down and when you dismiss people,” he told Curative representatives. “I want those decisions to be made by my team and certainly when your team has concerns, they need to reach out to us. But that is a decision that needs to be made at the county level.”
Curative explained that staff is working on improving lighting in the parking lot in order to continue vaccinations after dark.
The company is also working on improving technology and installing new software to handle appointments beginning next week.
“We look forward to working together and I think you’ll be very pleased with the next coming days,” said Miranda Gottlieb of Curative.
Gottlieb said they have met with staff on-site and instructed them to only serve those who arrive at their designated appointment time and date.
“What happened yesterday obviously can’t happen again,” Hill said at the end of the meeting. “We’ve got to continue to deliver on promises that were made to the people of Collin County.”
The county and contractor are also searching for a second location to serve as a vaccination hub, given constraints at John Clark Stadium.
Curative pointed out issues including limited parking space and medical workers walking on gravel.
Commissioners asked Curative if it was possible to provide up to 6,000 vaccines at the vaccination hub.
A representative from Curative said the site is not large enough for that goal, more like 1,500-3,000 doses.
The county says everyone who was turned away on Thursday has been contacted to return to John Clark Stadium on Monday for their vaccine.
*Map locations are approximate, central locations for the city and are not meant to indicate where actual infected people live.
**County totals below include all 32 North Texas counties, not just Collin, Dallas, Denton and Tarrant.