Dallas County was supposed to open 13 brand new drive-thru lanes at the Fair Park COVID-19 vaccine site on Tuesday in an effort to get more shots administered and bring down the wait times.
But all those plans came to a halt in the morning after the temperature dropped and generators needed to keep vaccines at a certain temperature didn't arrive on time, explained Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins.
"Our generators did not get here, and the generators are required to run the heaters so the vaccine does not fall sufficiently below 40 degrees," Jenkins said.
He said once the vaccines are thawed, they cannot drop below 40 degrees. Jenkins said the county reached out to other companies to get generators there within 24 hours.
The delay forced the county to move operations back inside and continue to operate the two-lane drive-thru that was already in motion on Monday. Jenkins said this week the county processed double the amount of people in a day compared to last week.
The heavy influx of people getting either their first or second dose was part of the domino effect that led to long wait times.
"I anticipated that we may have to wait, but not this long," said Shirley Washington, who waited with her husband in their car for more than four hours.
The couple, from Fort Worth, signed up on multiple waitlists but heard from the Fair Park site first. Washington said getting inside was like going through an obstacle course.
"They took us all the way around that doggone Ferris wheel, and I've seen the front and the back," Washington said.
Jeknins continued to apologize after people experienced long lines for the second day in a row.
"It's very disappointing and frustrating and I'm sorry, that is happening for them," he said. "You know when we get those generators and open that drive-thru it should solve the problem. But today is another, you know, very frustrating day for everyone involved."
The availability of portable restrooms was also an issue.
"We’re all 65 years old, our plumbing doesn’t work like it used to so they need to take that into very, very deep consideration," said Ray Gomez, who waited in the car for hours. "I was in the line for three hours and I saw a lot of the men were fortunate to be able to get out of their vehicles and relieve themselves."
Jenkins said portable restrooms were moved to the route along the drive-thru in anticipation of Tuesday's debut, and that officials were working on the issue.
Also to add to the mix, the county has moved on to a new QR code, but people returning for their second shot were still on the old system.
"So we're having to do their paperwork here, so that's taking five to ten minutes with each person," Jenkins said.
Eventually, the county hopes to give up to 1,000 vaccines per hour at the location
"Your grace and your patience is greatly appreciated, but we're working to get this faster for you," Jenkins said.
He said the drive-thru clinic would possibly open on Wednesday, but they planned to start at 10:30 a.m. due to possible freezing rain.
The county said it's in need of volunteers and people can sign up through voly.org
Monday, the county held a dry run of the drive-thru model at Fair Park and some found themselves in their cars for hours waiting for vaccines and waiting to exit Fair Park. Not all of the lanes were in use during the test run and soft launch.
People waiting in line reported at least one person whose vehicle ran out of gas while waiting but was able to still get a vaccine.
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.