On Wednesday the State of Texas officially opened the COVID-19 vaccine up to anyone over the age of 65 or with underlying conditions – but all the while a clear plan to communicate and organize the next tier of distribution has been missing.
“That coordination between the state and the hospitals does need to be a lot better,” said Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins.
According to Jenkins, the move by the state came as a bit of a surprise. Many healthcare workers and first responders have yet to receive the vaccine and previous communication with the state, according to Jenkins, had targeted February as the likely time for an expansion of the vaccine's availability.
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Now, across North Texas it remains somewhat unclear where the vaccine is available, a problem local officials are working with hospitals to solve.
“I think in the coming days you will see more and more local governments, including ours, coming up with more information about how if you are a 1-b how you may be able to access the vaccine,” said Jenkins.
In Dallas County, work is underway with the state to create a communication pipeline that would clearly list where the vaccine can be obtained. Additionally, hospital systems are tackling how to best communicate its availability to patients in their system that are eligible.
“I talked with the hospital systems after this had come out and many are looking at ways on their website that they can register people, do this in an orderly fashion – put signage up, etc,” said W. Stephen Love, President and CEO of the DFW Hospital Council.
Additionally, Judge Jenkins said they want to make sure that any notification of eligibility for the vaccine is done equitably and does not favor those with internet or socioeconomic advantages.
“It’s not just the most mobile or internet-connected persons that get the vaccine first, amongst the people who need it most,” said Jenkins.
In the near term, vaccine supply is far outpaced by demand that now includes the expanded 1-b category, which includes millions of Texans.
*Map locations are approximate, central locations for the city and are not meant to indicate where actual infected people live.
**County totals below include all 32 North Texas counties, not just Collin, Dallas, Denton and Tarrant.