Denton County Public Health has been named by Texas as one of its 28 COVID-19 vaccine hubs, making it a primary recipient of vaccine shipments moving forward.
The hubs were selected for their capability to vaccinate on a large scale, as the state begins shifting away from its previous model of supplying numerous providers with smaller shipments. The state’s Week 5 vaccine allocation list illustrates that shift, as DCPH was allocated 3,500 doses of Moderna’s vaccine. Just two other providers in Denton County were allocated shipments: Carrollton Springs in Carrollton and Baylor Scott & White Sports Surgery Center at The Star in Frisco, which are set to receive 400 and 100 doses, respectively.
With 254 counties, the state’s 28 hubs have been directed to make vaccinations available to residents outside their own. DCPH, whose waitlist contained over 46,000 people Monday according to spokesperson Jennifer Rainey, opened its online vaccination waitlist to residents outside Denton County on Sunday night. Rainey said it’s too early to tell what impact that will have on volume, but those outside residents also have hub options in other counties, such as Tarrant and Dallas.
Rainey said the department is expecting large shipments each week and is currently estimating another 3,500 vaccines in next week’s delivery. The new supply places greater emphasis on DCPH’s registration system, which was the subject of frustration for many residents when registration first opened.
The current waitlist system, a temporary solution added after DCPH’s original phone-based version could not keep up with call volume, notifies those on the list of when their vaccination is scheduled. Rainey said the new system, which county commissioners authorized the purchase of just over a week ago, will allow residents to instead choose a time for their appointment from a selection of time slots.
Additionally, the new system will streamline the reporting process for DCPH nurses, who currently keep track of vaccinations manually at clinics before returning to a computer to input the information. The new solution will allow nurses to check in vaccine recipients digitally and reduce the reporting workload. Rainey said the new system is still weeks away as its development continues.
Tuesday’s DCPH vaccination clinic will use 500 of its 3,500-dose allocation, with Thursday’s using up the remaining 3,000. As per the state’s COVID-19 timeline, vaccines are being offered only to those who fall under the Phase 1A and 1B groups. Ultimately, Rainey said DCPH is confident it can keep up with whatever number of vaccines the state can allocate it.
“This is what we’ve been hoping for: to be able to do these large-scale exercises,” Rainey said. “To be able to put it into place, and know that it’s affecting peoples’ lives in a positive way and turning the corner of this pandemic, is really exciting.”