By Jason Allen

FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) – Plans for the UNT Health Science Center to lead a vaccine expansion in Tarrant County fell apart, prompting the county judge to express doubt the county would be ready if vaccine supplies suddenly increased.

The university in Fort Worth was expected to implement a broad vaccination plan it presented to the county in January. It emphasized partnerships with schools, churches, business and community groups to move vaccinations into more neighborhoods and address any populations that were underserved.

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County administrator G.K. Maenius didn’t provide any specific reason in the meeting for why the county couldn’t come to an agreement with the school. Three experts from UNTHSC will instead now provide “guidance” to the county, under a consulting contract at a cost of $25,000 a month.

County Judge Glen Whitley indicated he expected the county would still need to find another partner to implement vaccination plans, to take the pressure of delivering millions of doses off an overworked health department. He was skeptical the county would be prepared if dose allocations increase unexpectedly.

“If it hits tomorrow, were not ready,” he said. “If it hits two weeks from now then maybe we’ll be ready and maybe everything will be fine. We just need to be moving in that direction, and I’m frustrated because I don’t think we are.”

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The public health director estimated Tuesday the county has already provided more than 200,000 doses of vaccine. Cities and health systems that have received allocations are handing some of the more than 500,000 registrations. The wait time for an appointment following registration is still around three weeks.

The county is moving forward with setting up a call center to handle as many as 5,000 phone calls still coming in daily for information on vaccinations. Some of the hold times have climbed up to three hours. About 25 people are expected to be working within three weeks, expanding later to 50. The target is to cut hold times down to about 15 minutes.

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