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Tarrant County Partners With UNTHSC on Plans to Expand Vaccination Access

NBC Dallas logo NBC Dallas 1/19/2021 Lili Zheng
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Tarrant County has entered a partnership with the University of North Texas Health Science Center to help with a plan to vaccinate more people in the county.

The partnership was approved Tuesday during a county commissioners court meeting, where Dr. Sylvia Trent-Adams with UNTHSC presented some of their recommendations. Dr. Trent-Adams, former acting U.S. Surgeon General, is now with UNTHSC as Senior Vice-President and Chief Strategy Officer.

Some ideas included mobile clinics to help people who may not have access to transportation, home-based access for those living with disabilities, and increasing the number of sites in high traffic areas.

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:

Waitlist Links: Collin | 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 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.

Trent-Adams also stressed the importance of partnering with the community, including civic organizations and faith-based groups.

“Churches, synagogues, mosques…whoever has a faith-based audience and are willing to listen to the need and host us as a vaccine site, I think would be a good partner for us in this effort,” she explained.

Trent-Adams added the county, however, must address challenges before them.

“There’s been some concern about unequal site distribution. We need to make sure there are ample sites for the entire county,” she said. “We need make sure provider bias and negative provider experiences are addressed. There are a lot of people in this community who don’t trust healthcare institutions.”

These are challenges Tarrant County Judge Glen Whitley said he was aware of and they are working to address. Encouraged by the partnership, Whitley said all the recommendations and implementation will hinge on vaccine availability from the state and federal levels.

With a new administration, Whitley said he is hopeful it will not impact availability negatively. Over the next few weeks, he said preparation is key as efforts ramp up.

Whitley said he wants ‘teams’ to be ready to effectively handle the continued distributions.

“If tomorrow, 100,000 vaccines came in, I think we would be not able to get those out in a week’s time,” he said. “So, what I want to do is I want teams set up in neighborhoods. I want to have teams set up in rural counties. I want to have teams set up all over our area.”

Vinny Taneja, director of Tarrant County Public Health, said the partnership with UNTHSC takes some burden off the public health department because it adds more ideas to the table. As of Tuesday, roughly 350,000 people are on their waiting list for a vaccine.

“Not everybody is eligible. So about 85% are eligible, the rest are ‘future’ eligible,” he said.

Taneja said the county is ‘close’ to activating an online system for people to see where they are in line. Though there is not a release date for the feature yet, Taneja said people to receive a registration number when they sign up which would allow them to track their status.

*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.

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