Two Dallas County Commissioners Tuesday complained about distribution decisions and the process for making them as COVID-19 vaccines begin to arrive.
Parkland Hospital is in the first group of recipients. Workers there began to get shots Tuesday morning.
Parkland CEO Dr. Fred Cerise said the hospital will work 15 hours a day, seven days a week to vaccinate front-line workers. He said people should not have a fear of getting sick from the vaccination.
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“You cannot catch COVID from the vaccine. The vaccine does not include any of the virus,” he said.
Patients who are sick from the virus now occupy 40% of the intensive care beds in Dallas County Hospitals, according to the DFW Hospital Council CEO Steve Love.
He told Dallas County Commissioners Tuesday it is the highest COVID-19 ICU rate to face hospital workers so far in the pandemic.
“Many of them are fatigued. As you all know, they're healthcare heroes,” Love said.
County Health Director, Dr. Philip Huang, said vaccine distribution is based on state and national advice.
“The guiding principle for how this will be allocated, protecting hospital workers, protecting front line workers, protecting vulnerable populations,” Huang said.
Dallas County Commissioner J.J. Koch said commissioners should play a larger role in the decisions.
“To not have as many minds, particularly our elected official minds, is extremely difficult to bear,” Koch said.
He complained about the panel of experts who have been meeting with Huang and Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins, a panel different than the county’s appointed Health Advisory Board.
Koch said hundreds of lives could be lost in future distribution by sending vaccines to the wrong groups.
“When you or that group mistakenly advises something, that it's going to be disastrous. That ain't us. That's not on us. We appointed our people to something entirely different,” Koch said.
Commissioner John Wiley Price said 1,450 Dallas County Jail Deputies who guard thousands more inmates are being unfairly excluded from the first round of vaccination.
“80% of the cities in the state of Texas have less population than does that jail. So where do they fall in the pecking order? Because they’re required to be there, no waiver,” Price said. “Who’s at the table? We’re responsible on this end. That’s what Mr. Koch was saying. That’s what we’re saying.”
Dr. Huang said wearing masks and social distancing must continue because it is simply not possible to vaccinate everyone at once.
“This is where the expectations need to be appropriate. It is going to take a while before all these groups get covered,” Huang said.
Steve Love urged people to be vigilant through the upcoming holidays.
“We still have a long way to go until the entire public is given this and we have herd immunity,” he said. “We’re going to need to do this for five or six months, but we can see the light at the end of the tunnel.”