Vaccine hub sites’ reliance on honor code system leaves people skipping the line in Williamson County

Williamson County

WILLIAMSON COUNTY, Texas (KXAN) — Despite state guidelines on who is eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine right now, there have been reports of people accidentally or intentionally skipping the line.

Williamson County officials say they’re aware some people have put themselves on the Family Hospital Systems waitlist to receive the vaccine even though they do not meet the Texas Department of State Health Services’ criteria for Phase 1A and 1B.

KXAN viewers reached out saying a vaccine appointment link was sent out to the masses allowing people who did not fall in Phase 1A or 1B to receive the vaccine.

Williamson County was not able to say how large of a problem this is or what percentage of ineligible people have received the vaccine.

At the same time, state guidelines don’t exactly allow for Family Hospital Systems, a partner with the Williamson County hub, to implement a verification processes, according to Williamson County.

“FHS can’t ask for verification of medical conditions,” said a Williamson County spokesperson. “It is an honor system. What we have done is repeatedly requested that people only sign up if they meet the DSHS guidelines so that they do not take a vaccine away from someone who is more vulnerable.”

While some are able to swiftly skip the line, others who fall under those vulnerable categories have waited weeks for their spot.

“We are both 88 years old. I have had a stroke, and my husband is diabetic,” said Joan Salban. “Our doctors are very concerned that we have not been able to get the vaccine.”

Salban spends hours a day checking the multiple sites where she’s registered for the vaccine.

She’s the primary caretaker for her diabetic husband and often has to leave the house to pick up medications, groceries and other essentials.

“I just wait and hope that because I’m somewhere on a list that they’re going to call me,” said Salban. “It’s so frustrating. I just don’t know what else to do. We have hit a brick wall.”

Salban is dumbfounded to find out some people not eligible to receive the vaccine have managed to do so.

The topic was briefly brought up during a regularly-scheduled commissioners court meeting Tuesday. Commissioner Valerie Covey questioned whether or not people showing up to the Kelly Reeves vaccine hub site have a scheduled appointment prior to receiving the vaccine.

“I don’t know how things are being handled at Kelly Reeves, but I know that the location in Georgetown — they have an appointment. We can’t ask them if they have health conditions, but if a portal is going out and if anyone can jump on it, are they checking. That concerns me,” said Covey. “What we are doing in Sun City, we are making sure they have an appointment.”

The actual discussion happened behind closed doors during executive session, but Williamson County did release a statement saying “Family Hospital Systems is working to improve their waitlist system and ensure that future registration links cannot be shared.”

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