After winter weather forced the major COVID-19 vaccine hubs to shut down last week, Dallas and Tarrant counties faced another setback as the state announced it would cut their allotment of doses to zero this week for Dallas County Health and Human Services and Tarrant County Public Health.
Other hubs in the counties, like Parkland Hospital in Dallas and Texas Health in Fort Worth, will still get large quantities of the vaccine.
"We've got people who've been waiting on the list since January to get a vaccine,
so we need them to not mess with North Texas vaccine," Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins said.
The move by the state comes after partnerships with FEMA were announced in both counties.
This week FEMA will start to operate vaccine hubs at Dallas' Fair Park and Arlington's Globe Life Field. Both sites will vaccinate 21,000 people a week for three weeks and are focused on vaccinating those living in under-served ZIP codes.
Tarrant County Judge Glen Whitley said he was assured the state's supply of vaccine would not be cut before he agreed to the FEMA partnership.
"It's pretty disappointing," Whitley said. "We're doing everything we said we'd do and we just want the state to step up and do what they agreed to do when we agreed to be a FEMA site."
Whitley said the move by the state cut 16,000 vaccines from their expected allotment this week and caused them to scramble at other vaccination sites.
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Late Monday, Whitley said Texas Health Resources had agreed to give 5,000 of their doses to the health department to help vaccinate more people off the county waitlist.
Jenkins said the state's decision means at least 9,000 fewer people will get vaccinated this week than they were expecting. He said the state's decision affected vaccination allotments at other vaccination sites in the county, too.
"The state is getting a record amount of vaccine in this week. We’re not asking for more than what we’re getting. We’re just asking for what citizens have been getting each week," Jenkins said.
NBC 5 reached out to the Texas Department of State Health Services and Gov. Gregg Abbott's office for insight into the decision and received the following statement from a spokesperson at DSHS.
"Vaccine allocated to Dallas and Tarrant counties is roughly even with where it has been over the last few weeks when including the doses associated with the FEMA effort. With a windfall of more than 84,000 doses going to just three counties, the Expert Vaccine Allocation Panel recommended sending additional doses to parts of the state that haven’t received nearly as much vaccine, in accordance with its principle of distributing vaccine equitably across the state. This allowed us to allocate vaccine to 230 counties for next week, the most of any week so far.
"Vaccine is allocated on a week-by-week basis, and the amount of vaccine available changes each week."
Both Whitley and Jenkins have reached out to the health department and the governor's office to appeal the decision.
Both Tarrant County and Dallas County said their second dose allotments from the state would not be affected, and anyone who received their first shot through the county would be guaranteed a second shot.
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:
Waitlist Links: Collin - Search Waitlist | Dallas | Denton | Tarrant
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.