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Dallas County Faces Vaccine Hesitancy, Outreach Challenges



DALLAS, TX – Dallas County’s top doctor says the biggest challenging facing the county in the fight against COVID-19 is combating vaccine hesitancy and determining how to reach those who still have not received a shot.

Dallas County Health and Human Services Director Dr. Philip Huang gave an update on the county’s fight against the virus to county commissioners on Tuesday.

According to the latest data, 49.3% of Dallas County residents ages 16 and older have received at least one dose of the vaccine, Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins tweeted on Tuesday.

While the Fair Park site continues to vaccinate thousands of people a day, on Monday less than 1,000 people showed up for their first dose, Jenkins said.

Huang said the county is trying to figure out how to combat vaccine hesitancy and what outreach efforts work.

Coronavirus Pandemic

To reach people after their workday, the Fair Park hub will be open until 8 p.m. Wednesday night. Typically the site closes at 4 p.m.

To make it easier to get a vaccine, the county no longer requires you to pre-register for an appointment at the Fair Park site. You can now just drive-up, get in line and get the shot within minutes.

While county leaders praised the success of the Fair Park site, they said wanted to see data on what other vaccination programs are working and duplicate that success.

“Our outreach muscle — whether that’s getting the vaccine door-to-door or community to community — I don’t see us flexing that muscle,” Dallas County Commissioner J. J. Koch said. “We are just testing that out now.”

“We need to measure all the outcomes of the partnerships so we really know where Dallas County is,” Dallas County Commissioner Dr. Elba Garcia said, echoing similar comments made by Commissioner John Wiley Price.

Jenkins said determining what will work has been a struggle for community leaders across the country.

“We’re going to have to be a little trial and error here in Dallas County, North Texas and the United States but as we see things work, we’ll do more of those things,” he said.

According to Jenkins, the county is working on programs that would target those shown to be more hesitant to get the vaccine.

One of those programs includes targeting white evangelical Christians, he said. An on-site vaccination clinic is planned for May 16 at Dallas mega-church First Baptist.

Other plans include nighttime pop-up clinics in Deep Ellum to reach more young people, Jenkins said.

“They may not get the shot that night but it may lead to conversations over dinner of them getting the shot at Fair Park or CVS a week or so later,” Jenkins said.

Jenkins and Huang said it was important to stress that it is easier than ever to get the shot, now that supply is readily available at hub sites and neighborhood pharmacies.

“Every vaccination makes us all a little bit safer and the sooner that we get vaccinated the better it is for you and everyone else,” Jenkins said.