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Hardin, Orange counties open COVID-19 vaccine appointments to anyone

Two Texas counties, Hardin and Orange, have opened their vaccines not just to phase 1A and 1B, but to anyone.

BEAUMONT, Texas — It may seem like a long drive from Houston, but people are willing to make the hour-and-a-half drive to the Beaumont area for a vaccine.

There's now a good reason. Two Texas counties, Hardin and Orange, have opened their vaccines not just to phase 1A and 1B, but to anyone.

“What we are trying to do is make sure we get as many shots in the arms as possible," said Orange County Judge John Gothia. “We went through 1A and 1B, and then our numbers started dropping off of appointments we could make and keep up with our allocation."

That allocation is 3,000 shots a week for both counties that share a health department. Last week, Hardin opened to anyone, and this week, Orange followed.

Hardin’s Health Director Sharon Whitley told KHOU 11 they have been surprised by the response.

“Our website did start crashing last week, and we did experience a high volume, not only on the website, but also in the call center," she said.

Whitley said if you can’t get in online, you can call (409) 550-2536. They’re asking people to be patient as they adjust to the higher demand.

"It is under our parameters to do it, and we have followed the state guidelines as best as we can," Judge Gothia said.

These counties are still trying to give priority to older age groups. They have a vaccination event this Sunday, where churches are encouraged to sign up their seniors called "Pack the Church Bus."

Click here to register for the vaccine in either county. You do have to have an appointment; you can't just show up. The appointments are walk in, not drive-thru. The location is given to you once you have completed registration. 

On Hardin County's website, it lists some costs for vaccines. The health director told KHOU 11 those are for other vaccines, not for COVID-19. It is free at any location.