DALLAS — The Texas Department of State Health Services did not hesitate to reprimand Dallas County after learning it was prioritizing certain ZIP codes in an effort to distribute COVID-19 vaccine doses.
DSHS penned a letter to Dr. Philip Huang, the county’s health advisor, on Wednesday stating their claim which led to an emergency meeting called by Dallas County commissioners.
“It has come to my attention that the Dallas County Commissioner’s Court has voted to limit access to COVID-19 vaccines to only residents of select ZIP codes within the county. I am concerned that this conflicts with the stated goals of DSHS and the state of Texas that vaccine be distributed as widely and equitably as possible in communities across the state,” the letter from Associate Commissioner Imelda Garcia reads.
The letter then reiterates the guidelines concerning the vaccine, including the distribution to Phase 1A and 1B populations.
“Vaccination efforts should not be restricted to residents of your county,” and “it is imperative that there be an equitable distribution through demographic coverage targeting the hardest hit ZIP codes and demographics," it reads.
Garcia writes that although the toughest hit ZIP codes should be ensured to receive the vaccine, they should not be sole recipients
“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. Prior to taking any action for the week of Jan. 25, I wanted to share this information with you for your consideration. DSHS must load the week 7 vaccine orders with CDC this Thursday, Jan, 21. Please let me know how Dallas County intends to proceed with vaccine distribution by 8:00 a.m. on Thursday, Jan. 21.,” the letter finishes.
The county commissioners voted to rescind their original decision regarding ZIP code prioritization on Wednesday evening.