As counties prepare for more COVID-19 vaccine doses in the coming weeks, Tarrant County leaders are looking into ways to expand access.
“First, I hope we can establish a drive-through site. We’ve seen that be very successful in Denton County,” Tarrant County Judge Glen Whitley said.
In an interview with NBC 5 Wednesday, Judge Whitley referred to the drive-through vaccination site which opened in Denton on Jan. 14.
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“When I went up to Denton and watched their operations last week, it was perfect. I mean, people were in and out including the observation time in about 30 minutes,” Whitley said.
This is something Whitley said he would like to see in Tarrant County, preferably west of I-35 in order to supplement the existing vaccination sites in areas like Arlington and Hurst.
“I will admit to you my preference to this is to find parking garages that we can do because as we both know, the spring can be a little volatile as far as the weather goes,” he said. “I’ve asked our folks to look at maybe Ridgemar Mall or some space available there. Possibly, we could go back to Dickies and see if there’s a possibility of doing something at that location.”
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 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.
Whitley said the biggest hurdle of opening a drive-through vaccination site is coming to an agreement with the chosen location. There are also logistics to consider like staffing and having enough space to inoculate, along with an area for observation.
Discussions surrounding vaccine access are happening at a time the vaccines are limited. According to Tarrant County Public Health director Vinny Taneja, the county’s additional allotment of 9,000 doses this week arrived early last Thursday.
Taneja said as of Tuesday this week, those 9,000 doses were used up.
“Last week alone because we started early, and we had the previous vaccines and second doses, we gave 22,000 doses last week through Public Health,” Taneja said. “I mean, that’s super-speed given that the supply is limited. This week, we’re mostly running second doses. When more vaccines come, we’ll get going again.”
Whitley said he would like to see at least one drive-through site in Tarrant County, though that is only one idea being discussed.
“Just as important, I would like to have the ability to take mobile sites into neighborhoods,” he said. “These could set up inside churches or in larger churches where they have huge parking lots, we might have drive-through sites there.”
According to Taneja, the current wait time for a COVID-19 vaccine appointment in Tarrant County is around three to four weeks. However, he said it is challenging to gauge because vaccine supply is inconsistent.
*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.