COVID-19 News

Austin's first mass drive-thru COVID-19 vaccination site rolls into COTA

Austin's first mass drive-thru COVID-19 vaccine site rolls into COTA

Circuit of the Americas
COTA is hosting the region's first mass vaccination site. Photo courtesy of Circuit of the Americas

Nearly 12 months after the novel coronavirus shut down SXSW and launched a year of lockdown and social distancing measures, Austin is finally getting its first mass vaccination site. On February 23, Travis County Commissioners voted unanimously to create a drive-thru operation at Circuit of The Americas beginning this weekend.

In an email to the White House COVID-19 response team, leaders of Travis, Caldwell, Hays, and Bastrop counties laid out their ambitious goals, which include administering 50,000 doses per week and vaccinating 800,000 people by July.

"Our model achieves the goal of getting shots in arms as soon as possible, and addresses some of the underlying equity challenges that have been present in vaccine distribution," the email reads. 

Though ambitious, it's a model that local leaders put to the test during a February 6 trial run at COTA during which 638 people received the COVID-19 vaccine, largely from communities of color.

Beginning Saturday, February 27, the vaccine drive-thru will return to COTA, led by Community Care and Ascension Seton, with goal of administering 3,000 doses of the coronavirus vaccine. Before you jump in the car, however, you'll still need an appointment and to meet the requirements, which as of press time still fall under the 1B category.

According to KXAN, the initial focus is on vaccinating local school employees and CommUnity Care members who meet eligibility requirements.

It's unclear when exactly the Texas Department of State Health services will broaden the vaccine categories, though last week's storms certainly didn't help. The state's vaccine supply suffered a major setback during Winter Storm Uri, and a timeline for when Texas will expand those requirements has yet to be publicly released.