Dallas County is moving vaccine distribution - spending approximately 30-million dollars in federal COVID-19 aid to hand over vaccine distribution to a private company.
American Medical Response Ambulance Service, which already has done work in Arlington and elsewhere, will take over.
Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins says the transition will take pressure off over-stretched county employees.
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“We have had a lot of people who have clocked 70-hours of overtime in a two-week period, and that’s just not sustainable for good physical and mental health,” said Jenkins.
Additionally, Jenkins says the move will save millions of dollars by lowering operations costs. Using the Fair Park vaccination site as an example, which he says will be roughly 50% more efficient.
“Every day the way it works right now is we are burning about $103,000 to run that site and with AMR taking over for about 3,500 shots a day – which is where we are headed, that runs about $51,000,” said Jenkins.
But with vaccination rates in communities of color still lagging behind, community advocates say they do have concerns a private company will have the best interest of underserved communities at heart.
“It sounds great to say we have all these vaccinations ready and that’s great but for me, it shows we don’t have enough people signed up,” said Leslie Armijo, with the organization ‘Don’t Wait Vaccinate.’
Armijo believes city and county leaders need to continue to do more.
“We have a lot of work to do, a lot of education,” said Armijo.
But Judge Jenkins says policy decisions, despite the private transition – will remain with county officials. And as part of the transition, he says more pop-up vaccination sites will become available in underserved areas.
“We are going to be able to use our AMR contract to open up sites in neighborhoods that don’t have vaccine availability,” said Jenkins.