Concerns Over ‘Pharmacy Desert', Lack of Vaccines in Southern Dallas County

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During commissioner's court on Tuesday, Dallas county leaders raised concerns the southern sector may be missing out on COVID-19 vaccines.

“I was really surprised when we looked at just the geographic distribution of pharmacies there is a ‘pharmacy desert’ in some of these areas in southeast Dallas,” said Dr. Philip Huang, Director of Dallas County Health & Human Services.

South of Interstate 30, there are fewer pharmacies and doctor’s offices, which means fewer providers are currently receiving the COVID-19 vaccine.

Those concerns were brought up by county commissioners John Wiley Price and Dr. Elba Garcia. Both expressed worries the southern sector may be missing out on access to vaccines, especially in communities that have been hit hard by the virus.

NBC 5 reviewed providers receiving vaccines in week four of the state’s vaccine distribution list, which started on January 4.

We found there are more than twice the number of pharmacies and clinics north of Interstate-30 receiving the vaccine than there are south of the interstate in Dallas County.

Huang said as more vaccines become available in Dallas County, they will try to fill in the gaps and look for ways to reach those living in areas where there are few pharmacies.

While Huang pointed out the disparity in numbers, he said the current list of pharmacies receiving vaccines is misleading.

Huang and Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins told commissioners it was their understanding many of the pharmacies currently receiving the vaccine are part of a partnership with the federal government to vaccinate long-term care facilities.

So, even though lists provided by the state may show a neighborhood pharmacy has 100 vaccines, Huang said those vaccines may already be reserved for people living in long-term care facilities or their staff.

During the meeting, Huang reiterated the biggest message they hope to convey to county residents is there remains a very limited vaccine supply.

Huang said they are reviewing plans to begin vaccine clinics for those in Phase 1B and are hopeful one could happen as soon as next week if they receive more vaccines from the state.

Dallas County residents can register to get on a vaccine waiting list here.

*Map locations are approximate, central locations for the city and are not meant to indicate where actual infected people live.

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