BELL COUNTY, Texas — The Bell County COVID-19 vaccine registration website officially launched Thursday morning to the public after the website was leaked earlier this week.
Bell County clarified Wednesday that they will only vaccinate 1A and 1B recipients at this time. Any appointments made by the general public who do not fit those criteria will be turned away.
The county kicked off vaccination clinics in Temple and Killeen on Wednesday. While the vaccination process itself went smoothly, an issue with the registration website has caused confusion over who is eligible to sign up.
Bell County had sent an email to individuals on a waitlist for the vaccine Tuesday that contained a link to a registration site. The eligibility requirements were mentioned in the email but not on the registration site itself.
Bell County did not intend for the site to be accessed by other members of the community until Thursday morning. The registration site's web address was leaked online Tuesday and many central Texans started booking appointments in Bell County while thinking the service was open to the general public.
McLennan County local Rae Snyder helped 6 News look into the confusion after she had been able to sign up on the site without answering any questions about what vaccination phase she was eligible for.
"It asked for my address, name, phone number, and email, that was it," Snyder said.
Bell County Spokesman James Stafford told 6 News Wednesday the Bell County Vaccine registration site was only meant to serve individuals who fit into phase 1A and phase 1B of the vaccine rollout, and that the eligibility requirements still needed to be added.
Stafford asked that anyone who has made an appointment but does not fit into those categories, cancel their appointment immediately to open the time slot back up. He said the county does not have any plans to delete appointments from the site at this point but hopes the public will help them correct the situation.
"As for appointments that have already been made we hope that people, if they are not eligible, that they can cancel those appointments to free up space for other people," Stafford said. "That's our priority right now. We want to get as many vaccines in arms as we can but we also want to make sure we are serving people that are meeting the criteria."
Snyder later told 6 News she has canceled her appointment and knows several other people who have done so as well.
Stafford also clarified that any individual who made an appointment but does not fit into the 1A and 1B category, will not be able to get the vaccine even if they got a confirmation online to show up at a selected day and time.
Bell County updated the registration website late Wednesday afternoon to include the eligibility information. The website will be available on the Bell County Health District website Thursday Morning.
Tuesday at 11:45 a.m., the Bell County Public Health District received 3,900 doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine. Bell County Judge David Blackburn held a press conference later that day and discussed the details of the plan to begin vaccinations.
Dr. Amanda Chadwell, Director of the Bell County Public Health District, also attended the meeting virtually and was available for questions.
During the conference, The Bell County Public Health District said it will to start vaccinations at 9 a.m. Wednesday morning at two county localizations including the Killeen Community Center at 2201 East Veterans Memorial Blvd in Killeen, and the Sammon’s Community Center at 2220 W Avenue D.
The county will first vaccinate the 4000 people that already signed up on a waitlist, whom they have verified to be part of phase 1A or 1B. Individuals who signed up on the waitlist will be contacted by the county via email and given a link so they can schedule their appointment. Additional members of the public that qualify for these phases will be able to register Thursday morning.
Blackburn said the county’s goal is to vaccinate 500 people a day, as long as vaccine supplies last.
The Bell County Public Health District Received 4900 doses of the Pfizer Vaccine Tuesday. Texas Governor Greg Abbott promised another 310,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine would be shipped out across Texas each week in a Monday press conference, so the county anticipates receiving additional supply next week to continue the operation.