Dallas County, Foiled by State, Seeks More Vaccine Equity

The Dallas County Commissioners Court is looking for ways to distribute the coronavirus vaccine more equitably after state officials balked at an earlier plan that would’ve prioritized zip codes where the most vulnerable people live.

The county, the eighth-most populous in the U.S., has faced criticism after early data showed the vaccine was going to mostly White residents in wealthy neighborhoods. County leaders earlier this week approved a plan to focus on a handful of zip codes with large percentages of Black and Latino residents at one of its vaccine hubs, only to reverse it after the state health department threatened to reduce its supply of vaccines.

The county’s zip-code plan for the Fair Park vaccine site would violate state rules that doses by given out “as widely and equitably as possible,” Imelda Garcia, associate commissioner at the Department of State Health Services, wrote in a letter to Dallas County Health and Human Services Director Philip Huang.

“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 wrote.

The commissioners had planned to meet Friday in an emergency session to address next steps in more equitably disbursing the vaccine, but canceled the meeting due to schedule conflicts. In a future meeting, they will look at other options, including asking more specific questions about people’s exposure to Covid when they sign up for the vaccines, said Commissioner J.J. Koch, who had proposed the zip-code plan.

“If you don’t see two-thirds of that line not being Caucasian, you know you’ve screwed up and we have screwed up,” Koch said about the people in line at the Fair Park site. Dallas County is 70% non-White.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

BQ Install

Bloomberg Quint

Add BloombergQuint App to Home screen.