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Texas threatened to reduce vaccine supply to Dallas County over plan to focus on 'vulnerable' ZIP codes

Texas threatened to reduce vaccine supply to Dallas County over plan to focus on 'vulnerable' ZIP codes
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The commission for Dallas County, Texas, abandoned its plan to focus coronavirus vaccines on vulnerable areas after state health officials threatened to reduce its supply of the vaccine.

The plan to focus COVID-19 vaccine doses to vulnerable ZIP codes violated the terms of Texas’s vaccine hub, The Dallas Morning News reports.

Imelda Garcia, associate commissioner for the Texas Department of State Health Services sent an email to Dallas County’s health director, Philip Huang, warning that their weekly allocation of vaccines could be reduced and their designation as a vaccine hub could be revoked if the county proceeded with its plan. The plan prioritized ZIP codes home to Black and Latino American communities, who make up a large number of essential workers. 

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“While we ask hub providers to ensure the vaccine reaches the hardest-hit areas and populations, solely vaccinating people who live in those areas is not in line with the agreement to be a hub provider,” wrote Garcia.

The letter was written in response to concerns raised by Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins, the News reports. The legality of the targeted vaccine plan had been questioned by Jenkins during a commission meeting.

The Morning News notes that the halt to their plan caused heightened tension in the Dallas County commissioners during an emergency meeting on Wednesday — amongst themselves and with the state.

After the meeting, Democratic commissioner Elba Garcia said in a statement, “We need to focus on the core African American and Latino communities that had been hit the hardest by the pandemic, but not to the exclusion of every Dallas County resident that doesn’t live in those ZIP codes."

According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention more than 2.5 million doses of coronavirus vaccines have been distributed to Texas, and about 1.4 million doses have been administered so far.