UPDATE: Tarrant County Ends Partnership To Deliver More COVID-19 Vaccine Months Early

FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) – Tarrant County will pay Fort Worth’s UNT Health Science Center up to $25 million to expand access to the COVID-19 vaccine.

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The medical school is expected to operate its own distribution sites, take over all marketing and outreach programs to underserved populations, and attempt to receive its own allocation of vaccine doses.

County commissioners agreed to pay UNTHSC $2.5 million upfront, to begin implementing the plan.

It’s expected the rollout will follow the outlines of a plan first presented to county leaders last month.

UNTHSC leaders recommended increasing partnerships with schools, civic groups, businesses, faith and healthcare entities.

“The UNT Health Science Center has consistently collaborated with Tarrant County and other community partners to expand COVID-19 testing and contact tracing, all while providing important and accurate health information to residents in an effort to prioritize the safety of our community,” said HSC spokesperson Lake Avonne Rapier in a written statement. “Today’s agreement with Tarrant County continues the partnership as we work together to develop and implement a comprehensive COVID-19 vaccine distribution strategy.”

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UNTHSC will not take over current vaccine sites the county is operating.

Last week county commissioners agreed to pay the school $200,000 for consulting, after the two sides couldn’t agree on a deal for a larger operation.

That contract is still in effect.

In a separate action Tuesday county leaders also agreed to fund a commercial call center to assist with a flood of phone calls coming in related to the vaccine.

Twenty-five call takers should be operating within the next 10 days, helping callers with registrations or questions on appointment times. The goal is to get call hold times down to 15 minutes.

The county will pay Group O, Inc. by the number of minutes agents spend on the phone.

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A slide in the presentation to county leaders estimated it could cost $3 million.