The Dallas City Council met for more than five hours Monday night and into Tuesday morning about the city’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout and registration.
Three city council members, Chad West, Adam Bazaldua and Paula Blackmon, asked for the special meeting last week after Johnson blocked their requests for city support of vaccine registration efforts.
“Let’s all come to the table, talk about things, and hopefully get better communication going forward because it’s the right thing to do for our city,” West said.
Mayor Eric Johnson asked city attorney Chris Caso to render an opinion that would cancel the meeting but Caso declined. Johnson claimed there was improper notice for the meeting and that many of the issues were moot because he has already taken action on them.
The meeting came in the same week the city is set to open a vaccination hub at the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center – starting with first responders Tuesday and eventually vaccinating Dallas residents who have registered with Dallas County. A city spokesperson told NBC 5 residents will likely start using the site Thursday.
“Our goal is to put 5,000 vaccines in arms by the end of the day on Saturday,” Rocky Vaz, Dallas’ emergency management director, told The Dallas Morning News.
Full coverage of the COVID-19 outbreak and how it impacts you
The Dallas Morning News reports more than 380,000 people have so far registered with the county to receive the vaccine in Fair Park, and over 18,800 doses have been given out since the mass distribution site opened Jan. 11.
People can register for the vaccine via the county website or by calling the registration hotline at 469-749-9900.
Want to Get on a Vaccine Waitlist?
County health departments have launched waitlists for adults 16 years old and over.
You can register to recieve the vaccination in Collin, Dallas, Denton and Tarrant counties. Links are below:
You do not need to be a resident of the county to register for a COVID-19 vaccine in that county -- registration is open to anyone in Texas. For those without internet access, Tarrant County is also taking registrations by phone at 817-248-6299. In Dallas County, call the DCHHS vaccine hotline at 1-855-IMMUNE9 (1-855-466-8639). In Denton County, call 940-349-2585.
For a more detailed breakdown of who is included in each priority group in Texas, see this page from the Texas DSHS.
Johnson said Friday the city vaccination site would draw people from the Dallas County registration list, but West said council members still had questions about how people would be selected from that list.
Johnson also said Friday he would order city vaccine registration hubs to be created but details have not been announced. He said registration site selection needed to be based on doing the most good and that city council registration requests were guided by politics.
Over the weekend, Johnson sent an email to constituents that went even further.
“Tell your City Councilmember to put an end to the shenanigans, the misinformation-peddling press conferences, the vaccine-related campaign emails, the media sniping, and the political theater of scheduling completely unnecessary and distracting special-called meetings," the e-mail said.
Council members accused Johnson of playing politics.
“I think that there's been a lot of unfortunate and quite frankly unnecessary political rhetoric,” Bazaldua said. “We have a pandemic on our hands. We have people dying every day and we have very important information that is very fluid.”
In addition to registration and vaccination, a topic for the special meeting was the appointment of an emergency coordinator.
In his memo to city attorney Caso requesting the meeting be cancelled, Johnson said in his role as the city’s top emergency management director under state law, he has already appointed Rocky Vaz as the emergency management coordinator. Therefore, Johnson said in the memo, that topic was moot.
West said that council members were told last year that City Manager T. C. Broadnax would be the emergency coordinator.
In his normal city emergency management job, Vaz reports to Broadnax, who oversees all city operations.
“He’s done a good job, but it’s made for a weird sort of dynamic in management, not having the person who’s in charge of your city, the city manager, be the person who’s coordinating the disaster,” West said. “What Rocky's doing now is going up to T.C. for those resources. It puts one more step in the process of trying to get help to those who need it most.”
Johnson declined an interview request Monday morning in advance of that meeting.
Texas COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution
Data from the Texas Department of State Health Services shows where COVID-19 vaccines have been sent around the state. Click on a marker to find out information about each location. Use the "plus" and "minus" signs below to zoom in and out of the map.
From the Texas DSHS: Availability of COVID-19 vaccines lilsted on this map are based on shipping information and reporting to the DSHS directly by facilities. Please contact providers in advance to confirm vaccination location and hours, that they have vaccine on hand and that you are eligible for vaccination at that site. Not all providers are vaccinating the public or people in all priority groups. Vaccine is available at no charge, regardless of insurance status.