DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Dallas County commissioners are scrapping a recently approved plan to prioritize giving the COVID-19 vaccine to residents of vulnerable neighborhoods after the state threatened to cut their allotment of doses.
“I think the majority’s goal was noble to help 11 underserved zip codes,” said Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins. “The effect though, if we continue on that path and lose our vaccine, is it will hurt people.”READ MORE: ERCOT Shuts Down Wholesale Electricity Provider Griddy In Texas
After commissioners approved the order on Tuesday, Judge Jenkins sent a letter to the state on Wednesday alerting them of the plan to give 1B residents in the 11 hardest-hit zip codes an opportunity to schedule an appointment for the vaccine before other zip codes.
In the letter, Jenkins said the county currently has 26,791 1B residents signed up for the vaccine in the 11 zip codes. Jenkins also acknowledged the order “is a departure from our practice of using DSHS guidelines to prioritize the most vulnerable in our community in an equitable way.”
The Texas Department of State Health Services sent a letter with a stern warning in response, saying the order “conflicts with the stated goals of the DSHS and the state of Texas that vaccine be distributed as widely and equitably as possible in communities across the state.”
Dallas County is also a large vaccination hub, according to the state, that must follow certain guidelines. “While we ask hub providers to ensure vaccine reaches the hardest hit areas and populations, solely vaccinating people who live in those areas is not in line with the agreement to be a hub provider,” the state’s letter read.
The state when on to say that if Dallas County does not follow the guidelines, then Texas would be forced to cut the county’s vaccine allotment and that the county would no longer be considered a large hub.READ MORE: Texas Lawmakers Call On Public Utility Commission Chair To Resign
“They have us down for 9,000 doses for next week, and if they don’t hear about us having this resolved, then they will either definitely cut back, or I guess, cancel our dose,” said Dr. Philip Huang, director of Dallas County Health and Human Servies.
Dallas County commissioners held an emergency meeting Wednesday evening to address the problem.
They ultimately decided to rescind the order to make sure vaccination efforts in the area were not affected.
“We need to work at ways to increase getting vaccines into those high spread and underserved communities, but we’ve got to do that in a way that does not discriminate against everyone who signs up because we are a state vaccination center,” Judge Jenkins said.
Commissioners plan to meet again soon to figure out how to better reach disadvantaged communities, while remaining compliant with state guidelines.
They also talked about ways to make the process more transparent.
Caroline Vandergriff contributed to this report.MORE NEWS: Plumber Shortage, Supply Chain Issues Delay North Texas Winter Storm Repairs
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