AUSTIN, Texas - Get them in line and off the waiting list. That’s what’s happening at the Dell Diamond, as the new super vaccination hub starts bringing in people in the 1C category.
"We are completely wide open in Williamson County," said Williamson County Judge Bill Gravell. They are so wide open, according to Judge Gravell, that the Dell Diamond site initially had 900 open slots Wednesday morning.
"Listen we even had folks who signed up last night that are getting vaccinated today, so the turnaround is pretty quick, we’ve got slots open even this week," said Judge Gravell. "I think a lot of it I think has to do with spring break, but a lot of it also has to do with great customer service, we are pedaling through thousands of doses a day."
The promise of a quick turnaround was included in this social media post on Tuesday night.
By Wednesday morning, the staff with Curative, which is operating the Dell Diamond Hub, launched an email blitz of appointment confirmations. The effort created a long line of vehicles that wrapped around the stadium parking lot and onto Highway.
It was a little intimidating for Monica Newland. "When you first get here you realize, this is happening I’m not just here, but it didn’t take long, I was fine," said Newland.
The Dell Diamond site is now capable of processing as many as five-thousand vaccinations a day.
The steady pace Wednesday was briefly interrupted by the surprise arrival of a rabbit in a car. Amanda Vargo Wattecamps decided not to drop her new pet off at home after picking it up, and after rechecking an email she got.
"I wasn’t actually sure my email was real, or if it was phishing, that I got from the county. So I hesitated, I got my bunny and I said let’s check out this email let’s see if I can do it today, said Vargo Wattecamps.
Highwinds late in the afternoon caused a safety problem and around 5:00 p.m., the site had to be shut down. Several hundred people waiting in line were turned away.
FOX 7 Austin was told those who had appointments will be able to come back Thursday.
The other super vaccination hub in Williamson County is at Kelly Reeves Stadium. It is operated by Family Hospital Systems.
The site was not providing shots Wednesday because the team there is preparing to reboot for busy days next week. A large group of second shots will be administered.
Judge Gravell pointed out it's important to remember those who use that location will have to re-register after getting their invite notification email.
"They have transitioned to new software where it’s more automated and innovative and that new software issues a one use only link it’s really trying to solve a problem that existed previous Lee they would send out a link and that individual would share that link with 3000 of their family members and then we’d have more people signed up then we had space for," said Judge Gravell.
Judge Gravell told FOX 7 Austin they have learned a lot of lessons in a short amount of time. He credits the quick transition to 1C to the original decision by county commissioners to use a public-private-partnership for vaccination distribution.
The two companies have slightly different compensation agreements. Both, according to a county spokesperson, receive payments from each individual‘s insurance company. Family Hospital Stems receives from the C\county $20/person up to 20k individuals.
After that point, the rate goes to $15/person not to exceed 175k.
The compensation package from the county for Curative includes up to $25k for operating expenses for things such as PPE, supply costs and staffing.
How that strategy is now playing out at the Dell Diamond had Gravell making a bold prediction. "I think we have, for those who have registered, have met the demand the 1a and 1B category, this 1C category I believe we will be through within the next seven days. And I would say as county judge there’s been a significant tidal change."
The judge went on to say that he initially thought a few days ago that by July 4th, 60% to 70% of the county would be vaccinated. He now believes that the percentage will be hit by June 15th.
People who have signed up to get a shot on the Williamson County site, but have received a vaccination from a different location, are asked to go back online and remove their names. Doing so will free up more appointments for those who are still waiting.