Tarrant County is ramping up efforts to encourage residents to get the COVID-19 vaccine with a virtual town hall answering questions and hoping to ease fears specifically in minority communities.
The move comes as the county faces challenges with getting vaccine information to people with limited internet and smartphone accessiblity and senior citizens.
Tarrant County reports of the 280,000 people who have registered to get a vaccine, only 6% are Black, one of the populations hardest hit by COVID-19.
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"There are locations currently in areas that are minority communities and we are starting to feed clientele into that location," said Tarrant County Health Director Vinny Taneja. "We have ways to geographically map and invite only people from those neighboring communities that obviously are underserved. That way the outreach is happening locally within those areas.
Health officials say virtual town halls are helpful in getting information out there, but there is also a plan to work to reach the thousands of homes with limited internet access, making it difficult to get information or register for the vaccine.
Want to Get on a Vaccine Waitlist?
As the state begins to distribute the COVID-19 vaccines for those in Phase 1A and 1B, county health departments have begun waitlists for those wish to be inoculated.
You can now 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 469-749-9900. 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.
Senior citizens are also a focus. While 5,000 long-term care facility residents have been vaccinated, health leaders are working to make sure others aren't overlooked, partially because of connectivity issues.
"The goal is to get out into the community," said Taneja. "So, we are talking with some partners about mobile clinics and we might be able to send some units out to senior communities where the vaccination can be done at an independent living facility or an apartment complex where a lot seniors live but that is a plan under development.
According to Taneja, the county is also reaching out to faith and community leaders to help lead an education effort aimed at growing the number of minorities registering for the vaccine.
“This (the vaccine) is the guaranteed way to end this pandemic, one shot at a time we are going to push COVID out of our community,” said Taneja.
*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.