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Bell County link to register for COVID-19 vaccine shared online, allowing unqualified patients to sign up

Officials urging those outside of Phase 1A and 1B to cancel appointment
Posted at 9:56 PM, Jan 14, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-14 23:18:21-05

BELTON, Texas — Several people currently on the COVID-19 vaccine waiting list in Bell County were not able to sign up for an appointment to receive the vaccine after the county's registration link was shared on social media.

According to a Bell County official, the county was supposed to send out an automated message to every person on their waiting list who qualifies under Phases 1A and 1B.

That message contained a link to a web site where they could sign up for an appointment at one of the county's mass distribution clinics. However, not everyone on the list received the email.

In addition, at least one person who received the email posted the link to social media, meaning anyone, even those living outside the county, had access to registration.

"I was sitting there with my finger ready to push the button," Rose Waller, who is on the county's waiting list, said. "9:00 comes, and I push the button and nothing comes up. Nothing's available."

Waller was unable to register for a vaccination appointment because other people not on the waiting list took her spot.

"It went smoothly maybe for those that cheated, got in line and did what they weren't supposed to do," Waller said. "But it didn't go smoothly for those who followed the rules."

County officials are urging anyone who signed up but does not qualify under Phases 1A or 1B to cancel their appointment. However, they admit it could be too late to fix the mistake.

"I know that our technology services is investigating solutions to help with making those appointments going forward," Bell County Public Information Officer James Stafford said.

Stafford said more spots could open if people cancel their appointments. He urges qualified individuals to check the registration site for openings.

Waller received word Thursday afternoon a spot had opened up on Jan. 21.

"I know there are a lot of people in a lot worse shape than I am, but it's just so frustrating to see things manipulated in this manner," Waller said.

Stafford said the county expects to receive another shipment of vaccines soon, but they have not received any specific information from state officials.

Bell County was named a vaccination hub by Governor Greg Abbott. This week, they received 3,900 doses of the vaccine.

"To get those 3,900 doses, to be named a vaccination hub was great news for the entire county and the community," Stafford said.

Since its launch, Stafford said the county has added some boxes to the registration site, requiring applicants to confirm their eligibility before applying for an appointment. They hope the additional measures will stop a similar event from happening in the future.