North Texans Trek to Amarillo for Walk Up Vaccines

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With waitlists for COVID-19 vaccinations at hubs around Dallas-Fort Worth continuing to grow, Leona Peterson was losing hope.

“It became clear that I wasn't going to get a vaccine in Dallas anytime soon, so I started applying in Tarrant County and Denton County, where they're going to be doing the Speedway. But I was just going to be so far down on those lists,” said Peterson.

At four-months pregnant, Peterson qualifies for a vaccine in the 1b priority group. She’s been eager to get one per CDC guidance that suggests pregnant women could be at an increased risk for complications from the virus.

Want to Get on a Vaccine Waitlist?

County health departments have launched waitlists for adults 16 years old and over.

You can register to recieve the vaccination in Collin, Dallas, Denton and Tarrant counties. Links are below:

Waitlist Links: Collin - Search Waitlist | Dallas | Denton | Tarrant

You do not need to be a resident of the county to register for a COVID-19 vaccine in that county -- registration is open to anyone in Texas. For those without internet access, Tarrant County is also taking registrations by phone at 817-248-6299. In Dallas County, call the DCHHS vaccine hotline at 1-855-IMMUNE9 (1-855-466-8639). In Denton County, call 940-349-2585.

For a more detailed breakdown of who is included in each priority group in Texas, see this page from the Texas DSHS.

Then 10 days ago, Peterson’s 68-year-old dad died from COVID-19 after a two-week hospital stay.

"He got COVID the same week he was supposed to get vaccinated,” said Peterson.

More eager than ever, when Peterson came across a Facebook post saying Amarillo was offering vaccines to those in the 1a and 1b priority groups on a first-come, first-serve basis, she jumped in her car.

"I didn't check the weather. I didn't pack any clothes. I just went,” said Peterson.

After a five hour drive and overnight hotel stay, Peterson was in line by 6:30 a.m. She was 15th in line when the doors opened at 9:00.

“People are coming from Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas, Colorado, even South Texas. People are driving up from Midland/Odessa, from Austin, from Dallas to get the shot, and they go right back home,” said Potter County Judge Nancy Tanner.

In a month and a half, Tanner said the county’s vaccinated 45,000. Without feeling a shortage in supplies like many other larger counties have around the state, she said taking walk-ups just makes sense.

“I think that the appointment thing, in my honest opinion, is a little too much paperwork,” said Tanner.

And thus far, it’s worked. Tanner said they have no plans of turning anyone away.

With more people due for their second vaccinations, Tanner said Monday is the first day they’ve run out of vaccines. By Tuesday, they were back up and running.

"I don't know why we're so special, but it seems to be working for us. And so we have to share what we can with everybody,” said Tanner.

*Map locations are approximate, central locations for the city and are not meant to indicate where actual infected people live.

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