calling the shots

City of Houston launches online registration for free COVID vaccinations

The City of Houston is making it easier to get free COVID-19 vaccinations. Photo courtesy of ABC13

Since COVID-19 vaccinations arrived in Houston, locals have been clamoring for the inoculations. Now, the City of Houston has made it easier for those at highest risk to receive the injections.

The Houston Health Department launched online registration on January 4 for residents at highest risk of coronavirus disease to schedule appointments to receive free vaccinations. (A Spanish version is anticipated to launch as well, according to the city.)

Those in Phase 1B of the State of Texas' vaccine distribution are advised to use the new service. This includes those 65 and older or 18 and older with at least one chronic medical condition putting them at increased risk of severe illness or death.

Frontline healthcare workers — classified as Phase 1A in the distribution plan — who have yet to receive the vaccine also are eligible to sign up to get the shot through the health department, per a press release. The department currently offers the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine. More information can also be found here.

Meanwhile, appointments are also available through the health department's COVID-19 call center by calling 832-393-4220. The call center is open Monday through Saturday from 7:30 am to 4 pm and until 5 pm on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Users will receive an appointment time and the location of the vaccination clinic site during the registration process. Staffers will screen visitors and direct them to a secure area to receive the vaccination and monitor them for any adverse reaction for 15 minutes, according to the city.

"The Houston Health Department is doing a phenomenal job getting the vaccine directly to people," said Mayor Sylvester Turner. "The new online registration, in addition to the call center, will make the process more efficient. While there is great public demand for the COVID-19 vaccine, there is also a lot of hesitancy. I understand the concerns, but I encourage all eligible Houstonians to get vaccinated to help stop the spread of the deadly virus."

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This article originally ran on CultureMap.

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Building Houston

 
 

The SBA announced plans to open 20 new centers to serve female entrepreneurs — and one is coming to the Houston area. Photo via Getty Images

The Houston area is benefitting from national funding that will be dedicated to creating female-focused resource centers across the country.

The United States Small Business Administration announced grant funding to launch 20 new Women's Business Centers (WBC) across the country. The centers, which are slated to go into rural and underserved markets, will also be partnering with Historically Black Colleges and Universities.

With the funds from the grant and through a partnership with the Greater Houston Women's Chamber of Commerce, the new center will rise in Northeast Houston to serve the Montgomery, East Harris and Chambers' Counties.

"We are incredibly excited that an organization as prominent as the Greater Houston Women's Chamber of Commerce is joining the SBA team," says Tim Jeffcoat, director if the SBA in Houston. "We are looking forward to working with them to empower women-owned businesses in Houston to reach new heights of success."

These new efforts represent the largest expansion of the WBC program in its 30-year existence.

"We are thrilled to partner with the SBA in opening another Women's Business Center, providing resources and tools for our region's women-led organizations to launch and expand," says Suzan Deison, CEO, president and founder of the Greater Houston Women's Chamber of Commerce. "We are honored the SBA chose to partner with us to expand needed services in Montgomery, East Harris & Chambers' counties, especially during these challenging times."

The SBA has 136 centers open across the country, and each offers business counseling, training, networking, workshops, and more to area female entrepreneurs.

"Opening the doors to the new Women's Business Centers is crucial to the vitality of women-owned small business owners. This network expansion will provide female entrepreneurs with the resources they need to start, grow, and expand their businesses," says Associate Administrator for the Office of Entrepreneurial Development Allen Gutierrez. "We look forward to the continued success of the WBC program as it contributes to the overall health of our economy and creates jobs in their local communities."

According to the release, the timing of these new centers is especially important as entrepreneurs continue to be challenged amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

"Over the past several months, we have seen Women's Business Centers provide aid to our nation's innovative and determined entrepreneurs, allowing countless small business owners to pivot with confidence to stay afloat during the pandemic," says SBA Administrator Jovita Carranza. "Expanding the WBC program is part of this Administration's longstanding commitment to the success of female entrepreneurs and women-owned small businesses. Adding these new Women's Business Centers to the already existing network of centers across America will boost timely resources to our nation's female economic drivers, providing them with local training and counseling."

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