DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – The COVID-19 vaccine rollout prepares for a shot in the arm In Dallas County.
According to Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins, the doses of available vaccine coming from the state will more than double in the coming weeks, so leaders are preparing now to ramp up distribution efforts.
“Right now, we’ve vaccinated a little over, 83,000 people,” says Judge Jenkins, “and so that’s about 3% of our population so far…we have a long way to go to get to that 75%.”
That magic number is what health experts say will lead to ‘herd immunity’– when enough people are vaccinated to deny the virus a pathway to spread. Now, as eligibility expands beyond healthcare workers and first responders to those over 65 and with underlying health conditions, a wider net will also be needed to manage distribution. Dallas county expects to open three so called ‘mega’ vaccination centers as early as next week.
“Two of those locations will be the Ellis Davis Fieldhouse, and the Eastfield College campus,” explains Judge Jenkins. “Those will be drive-throughs, by appointment only. If you show up without an appointment. They’ll just turn your car around.”
A third vaccination site will offer walkup service for those who want to be monitored for possible adverse reactions. That location as well will likely serve the southern sector with county leaders looking to vaccinate the “most vulnerable– that if they get COVID they’ll be most likely to be in the hospital and need a lot of critical care,” explains Judge Jenkins. “We’re looking at zip codes where they’ve been hardest hit with COVID. We’re looking for the most underlying conditions and other factors, and the doctors tell us those people need it first.”
Dallas county leaders say they are also looking to learn from Tarrant County neighbors.
A large vaccination site at Arlington’s eSports complex now vaccinating more than 1,000 patients each day.
Lt. Richard Fegan of the Arlington Fire Department, says they learned quickly that requiring registration helps the process move more efficiently– and patients agree.
“It was real easy…as soon as they published the link we got in there,” says David Luttner, poised to get the Moderna vaccine in Arlington. “It was last week, and we already got an appointment.”
That kind of process hopefully coming soon to Dallas County. Everyone–whether eligible now or not– being encouraged to register online. More than 71,000 thousand have done so in a matter of days.
“We can get that out into all communities, particularly those that are medically underserved just as soon as we can,” says Judge Jenkins while admitting that local leaders would still need to work to convince some in the community that the vaccine is safe, “because that is the strongest advertisement you have for the effectiveness and safety the vaccine is for someone you care about to get it and be doing better.”
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