DALLAS — The City of Dallas will join with Dallas County as a provider of COVID-19 vaccines starting next week.
Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson said the city will receive 5,000 doses from the Texas Department of State Health Services and open up the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center to administer the doses using an appointment-based, drive-up system.
The convention center was used in late December to administer 2,000 doses to Dallas police and firefighters.
The doses coming next week will be the first the city administers to the public eligible to receive the vaccine, the 1B group of people over the age of 65 or with an underlying condition.
The city says it will pull names from the existing registration database operated by Dallas County Health and Human Services.
"This is the greatest news we’ve had in a long time about this," Johnson told WFAA. "We’re going to start distributing vaccines directly to the public ourselves. We’re getting our first shipment soon so we’ll be starting in days.”
Eligible residents will be contacted by the city to schedule an appointment at the convention center. The Office of Emergency Management for the city will operate the location from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on weekdays and at least one weekend day, depending on supplies.
The city said it does not have an opening date for the convention center yet, but it is expected to open next week.
In Dallas County, health officials said over 18,000 vaccinations have been administered since the Fair Park site opened on January 11.
The county will receive another allotment of 9,000 doses from the state next week to distribute at Fair Park and will continue to work to ensure those who receive invitations for an appointment are the same people who show up.
On Friday, Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins said county commissioners will hold an emergency meeting next week to select a vendor that can provide unique QR codes for appointments that cannot be hacked.
"We continue to have challenges of people showing up with someone else's invite and the people showing up are not older people," Jenkins said.
County aims to solve appointment disparity with third party vendor
County data from the first three days of the Fair Park site last week revealed disproportionate amount of those receiving the vaccine were from more affluent zip codes in Northern Dallas County. Jenkins said that result was in large part due to the appointment system being compromised.
He said the issue persisted into this week as well, likely not at the same level of disparity, but enough to require county commissioners approve a new vendor that produces an appointment invitation that can not be hacked.
"This week the mix should have been about 90/10 split of people in hardest hit zip codes and people of color to Anglos from the northern part of Dallas County, which would have balanced out what we saw the first week," Jenkins said.
"We won't see that because of the continued counterfeit appointment problem but we will see a big improvement from the first week. The answer is a QR code system and more outreach. If we do all that, it stops the hacking and the only people who get appointments are the people you invite."
Jenkins said the county is working to get a call center up and operational in the next week to do direct outreach to the zip codes most impacted by COVID-19 and try to increase the number of people registered to receive a vaccine from the county.