Both this week and next, Dallas and Tarrant counties will both receive 6,000 doses of the recently approved Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine.
Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins said Monday the county plans to send the bulk of the shipment, roughly 4,000 doses each week, to the county's drive-through vaccination site to be administered alongside the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines.
The vaccines, which Jenkins announced on Friday, are sent directly to the county and are not part of the state's weekly allocation.
Jenkins said the county's FEMA vaccination hub is delivering first dose Pfizer vaccines and second doses of Moderna vaccines this week. Though all three vaccines are, or will be, at the hub, people aren't expected to be able to choose which one they get.
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.
"The best vaccine for you is the one that's available. They all work good," Jenkins said. "Once you're vaccinated and protected you're statistically highly unlikely to be hospitalized or killed by COVID-19. That's really the goal, so don't focus on which vaccine you want focus on why you want the vaccine in the first place and get the vaccine you can get your hands on the quickest."
The other 2,000 weekly doses will be directed toward special populations including the county's roughly 4,500 homeless people and 2,700 people incarcerated at the Dallas County Jail. Jenkins said Parkland Memorial Hospital has already requested 600 doses of the vaccine be sent this week to use at the jail.
The judge said they'll work with nonprofits in the county, such as CitySquare, Our Calling and The Salvation Army, to target the homeless population with the remaining doses.
Johnson & Johnson Vaccine
"Our goal would be to get as many of those people [the homeless] as we can to take the shot, laminate the shot card, put it on a lanyard for them," Jenkins said, adding the single-dose Johnson & Johnson shot is ideal for people who would have difficulty getting a second shot in a timely manner. "I'm hoping many of them would take the shot."
In Tarrant County, Judge Glen Whitley said the decision on who receives the new shot first will ultimately come from FEMA.
Whitley said the staff at John Peter Smith Hospital has already pulled from past supplies to vaccinate 740 people who are experiencing homelessness, along with 1,065 inmates at the Tarrant County jail.
Whitley said these new shots could be used to reach other high-risk groups.
"We had always talked about when the one-shot vaccines come in about utilizing those for our homeless or our hard to reach folks," said Whitley.
The Johnson & Johnson vaccine is a single-dose shot and is easier to transport in that it only needs to be refrigerated and not frozen.
In Texas, the COVID-19 vaccines are currently is currently available to anyone over the age of 16, regardless of in which phase they had previously been grouped. President Biden said on April 6 the vaccine should be available to all Americans, in all states, by April 19.
The vaccines are still not approved for children however -- those trials are ongoing.
Once vaccinated, people who received either the Moderna or Pfizer vaccines are expected to get some level of protection within a couple of weeks after the first shot, but full protection may not happen until a couple of weeks after the second shot. For those who receive the Johnson & Johnson vaccine -- there is only one shot needed. Even when fully vaccinated, it's still possible to become infected by the virus since none of the vaccines offer 100% protection from infection. With that in mind, even if you've been vaccinated it's still a good idea to wear a mask and keep some separation between strangers or those whose vaccination status is unclear.
Waitlists for vaccinations have been established in Dallas, Denton, Collin and Tarrant counties -- links to sign up are here and below.