Dallas County Axes Plan to Prioritize Vaccinating Communities of Color After State Threatens to Slash Allocation

People that received a COVID-19 vaccine socially distance as they wait the required fifteen minutes to monitor for adverse reactions after getting the shot at the Dallas County mass vaccination site at Fair Park Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021.

People that received a COVID-19 vaccine socially distance as they wait the required fifteen minutes to monitor for adverse reactions after getting the shot at the Dallas County mass vaccination site at Fair Park Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021. AP Photo/LM Otero

 

Connecting state and local government leaders

State officials told Dallas leadership the plan was "not acceptable," and threatened to cut the county's vaccine supply.

Faced with the threat that the state might slash its vaccine allocation, Dallas officials on Wednesday reversed course on a plan that would have prioritized doses for people living in the county’s most vulnerable ZIP codes, primarily in communities of color.

A divided Dallas County Commissioners Court had voted Tuesday to prioritize vaccines at its Fair Park distribution center for individuals in mostly Black and Latino neighborhoods, a reflection of increased vulnerability to the coronavirus in 11 Dallas County ZIP codes, according to the Dallas Morning News.

In Texas and across the nation, communities of color have been hardest hit by the novel coronavirus, and health officials are grappling with how to ensure equity in the vaccine rollout. In Dallas, as in other major Texas cities, distribution sites are more commonly located in white neighborhoods, and early data showed the North Texas county had distributed most of its shots to residents of whiter, wealthier neighborhoods.

Dallas leaders tried to prioritize any residents who meet the state’s criteria for vaccination and live in one of the 11 ZIP codes, which are all completely or partially south of Interstate 30, a dividing line that splits the county along racial and socioeconomic lines, the Dallas Morning News reported this week.

But Texas health officials pushed back on the proposal, warning that it was “not acceptable to [the Department of State Health Services.]”

“While we ask hub providers to ensure vaccine reaches the hardest hit areas and populations, solely vaccinating people who live in those areas is not in line with the agreement to be a hub provider,” Imelda Garcia, an associate commissioner with DSHS, wrote to Dallas health officials in a letter obtained by The Texas Tribune. “If Dallas County is unable to meet these expectations, we will be forced to reduce the weekly vaccine allocation to Dallas County Health and Human Services and no longer consider it a hub provider.”

Garcia asked Dallas for an update on the vaccination plan by Thursday morning. Her letter came after Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins wrote to state officials asking whether the county’s plan was permissible.

The county government is responsible for just 10% of the vaccines distributed in Dallas County. Most of the vaccines are actually distributed by hospitals and other health-related institutions.

In an emergency meeting Wednesday evening, Jenkins successfully encouraged commissioners to reverse the plan. They could broach the issue again, he said, but for now they should axe the prioritization plan to ensure the county gets its next shipment from the state.

In a spirited and at times tense meeting, Commissioner J.J. Koch, who proposed the order in the first place, pushed to maintain language prioritizing the vulnerable ZIP codes and accused Jenkins of being “disingenuous.” Koch proposed tweaks to the order to meet the state’s specifications while still prioritizing the hard-hit communities.

“I'm not willing to risk the vaccine for tens of thousands of people over the next few weeks because you guess that your order is good enough to satisfy the state,” Jenkins said.

“I’m certain” that the order will be acceptable to state officials, Koch shot back.

“You got us in the situation we’re in tonight,” Jenkins replied. “The more you keep doing this, the more you’re hurting the people of Dallas County.”

Ultimately, the court voted to rescind the order — but agreed to meet again later this week to design a vaccination plan that will be “transparent and accountable,” as Koch put it.

“We’re all trying to get to the same place,” Jenkins said, trying to pacify the group.

“No, we’re not,” objected Commissioner John Wiley Price, who represents South Dallas and raised concerns throughout the meeting that the county was not doing enough to serve vulnerable communities.

Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson declined to comment on the debate.

"All hub providers agreed to vaccinate people without regard to where they live, including from surrounding counties, and we expect them to do that. That doesn’t prevent them from focusing some efforts on specific populations," said DSHS spokesman Chris Van Deusen. "In fact, we directed them to ensure they are vaccinating people in the hardest hit areas and populations, but they cannot do that to the exclusion of literally everyone else.

Need to stay updated on coronavirus news in Texas? Our evening roundup will help you stay on top of the day's latest updates. Sign up here.

This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune at https://www.texastribune.org/2021/01/20/dallas-vaccine-plan-communities-of-color/

Emma Platoff and Juan Pablo Garnham are staff reporters for The Texas Tribune.

NEXT STORY: Some Health Care Workers Refuse Covid Vaccine

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.