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Local lawmakers ask state to improve vaccine distribution across southern Dallas County following community outcry

Sen. Royce West said said the DSHS commissioner recognized the problem associated with its vaccine provider map and acknowledged there needs to be better coverage.
Credit: Texas DSHS
A screenshot of the Texas DSHS map of vaccine providers in Dallas County as of Jan. 5, 2021.

Amid growing concern over equitable distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine and Texas Department of State Health Services vaccine allocation maps, some Dallas County lawmakers are requesting expanded distribution to providers across Southern Dallas.

Sen. Royce West said he had a discussion with DSHS Commissioner Dr. John Hellerstedt and showed him the map, which shows a lack of vaccine distribution locations across southern Dallas County. 

West, who represents Dallas County residents in District 23, said the commissioner recognized the problem associated with the map and acknowledged there needs to be better coverage.

According to West, the commissioner will begin working with his office immediately to identify health care providers in that specific geographical area to provide better distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine.

West also said Hellerstedt told him that providers have been contacted through the Texas Hospital Association, Texas Medical Association, and Texas Pharmaceutical Association, and encouraged to apply.

Judge Clay Jenkins said Tuesday that the county health department planned to open a mass vaccination site within the next that would serve the communities that need it most. 

Jenkins said county officials had toured three different locations in Southern Dallas that could be used.

RELATED: Tarrant, Dallas counties plan to set up mass vaccination sites as soon as next week

West also said as part of his investigation into the issue he requested a report of how many people in the area applied, and how many have been approved.

Additionally, staff from Rep. Carl Sherman's office confirmed he's also heard of concerns from constituents about COVID-19 vaccine distribution. Sherman is among a group of lawmakers filing a letter to the state health commissioner Tuesday, asking the state to address those issues.

Lastly, West said he expressed to the state health department that he’d like to see substantial improvement in equitable distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine this week and moving forward.

Dallas ISD Trustee Maxie Johnson and members of the South Oak Cliff Alumni are among Dallas County residents who've been actively speaking out about community concerns with the Texas DSHS COVID-19 Vaccine Allocation site maps. They've pointed out the history of access challenges to health care and other resources in neighborhoods across southern Dallas County.

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