DALLAS — Monday night’s special meeting was anything but short and sweet. It took members of the Dallas City Council five hours to discuss three agenda items before voting on two and letting another get withdrawn before it could receive a vote.

“I personally don’t feel that this is the most productive use of our time or our city resources right now, but here we are,” said Mayor Eric Johnson as he kicked off the 7 p.m. meeting.

What You Need To Know

  • The city has received 5,000 doses of the vaccine to provide to residents at the Kay Bailey Hutchison Community Center

  • The drive-thru vaccinations will begin Thursday at 10 a.m. and end Saturday at 7 p.m.

  • To register for the vaccine, visit the county website 

But multiple council members disagreed with Johnson about the reason for the meeting in the first place. In a memo last week, council members Paula Blackmon, Chad West, and Adam Bazaldua called for the special session to address confusion around the city’s rollout of the vaccination. Last Thursday, members were notified via social media along with the public that Dallas would receive 5,000 doses of the vaccine causing eyebrows to raise at the flow of information and the way in which it’s received.

“I think that right now more than anything we’re looking for clarity, streamlined information, [and] there needs to be even unity,” said Bazaldua. “We have constituents from all different council districts reaching out to their council people asking questions. We have council people using social media to go on and talk about how everything’s in a cluster. We have the mayor that is speaking on his social media platforms about his displeasure with the county’s out-rolling of things.”

Rocky Vaz, Dallas’ director of emergency management, was front and center most of the night as a slew of questions were directed towards the city’s plans to not only register but also vaccinate the millions in the bustling metropolitan area. From marketing and communication methods to accommodations for the sick and shut-in, council members took turns trying to get as much info as possible to share with their constituents who they say need answers.

“Some people will be waiting for months unless the supply increases,” Vaz said. “You’ve got 400,000 people and you’re getting 5,000 doses. You do the math. People are going to be getting more frustrated.”

Nearly 400,000 people have registered on the county’s website to receive the vaccine. According to Vaz, the city’s plan includes vaccinating residents in the Phase 1A and IB category starting Thursday at 10 a.m. at the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center. The drive-thru vaccination will last through Saturday at 7 p.m., according to officials. Those who have already registered via the county’s website do not have to register again since the city will pull names from that database.

“We’ll have a good scheduling system that will send emails or texts to people telling people when to come in for their vaccination and we’ll have reminders for their second shot,” said Vaz. “So, that’s the process [and] we’ve been working on that since we got notice that we are being designated as a vaccine hub. We’re still ironing out the fine details on that and will have all of that to council and then it will be made public, posted our website and whatever communication we need to have for our general public on that process.”

Vaz said he’d look into figuring out how to connect with elderly people using landlines trying to register for the vaccine. He also briefly addressed the issue of people interested in the vaccine who aren’t able to travel, such as the sick and shut-in. He noted the city hadn’t currently made arrangements for those individuals but would look into accommodating them.

A frequently asked questions page will live on the city’s website to provide information about the city’s COVID-19 rollout. Vaz also stated he’d designate a point-of-contact for people to reach by phone for questions about the distribution and registration process during business hours. The need for more vaccination sites as well as registration hubs was brought up multiple times throughout the meeting.

“We are exploring future sites [for] if and when we get additional vaccine allocations to have the plans and logistics ready to roll it out,” said Vaz. “We get very short notice from the state when we get allocations. But, right now as it stands the 5,000 that we are getting is for the Kay Bailey Hutchinson Convention Center and those get listed on the state’s sight and we hope that next week we’ll get an additional. But if we maintain the 5,000 allocation per week we will be focusing on Kay Bailey Hutchison because the vaccinations are tied to that site…”

As the night rolled into the morning, the council and mayor took to a vote on the agenda items. The council voted 10 to 5 in favor of authorizing the city manager, T.C. Broadnax, to provide assistance with COVID-19 vaccination registration, including setting up vaccination registration centers to ensure equitable distribution of the vaccinations and providing laptops and PPE for registration.

A motion to designate the city manager as the emergency management coordinator was removed from the floor before it could receive a vote. Lastly, the council voted 10 to 4, opposing a motion that would require the mayor to provide members with updates during state and local disasters — a move members said would require him to communicate with them.

“This item to me reveals exactly why I have described this whole thing as political theater and as unnecessary, because it’s clear intent is to go someplace we really need to think twice before we go and that place is this — it’s not the request for information that I have any objection to or that anybody I think is involved with has any issue with,” said Johnson about the item before a vote was taken. “It’s that through an action of the council you’ve attempted to compel a member of the council — not an employee of the city, a member of this council — to provide a briefing…”

For more information on the vaccine, visit dallascityhall.com/covid19 or call 214-670-INFO (4636), and to sign up, visit Dallas County’s website here.