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Tarrant County partners with UNTHSC to expand COVID-19 vaccination plans

UNT Health Science Center presented its plan for COVID-19 vaccine distribution at the Tarrant County Commissioners Court meeting Tuesday.

TARRANT COUNTY, Texas — At the Tarrant County Commissioners Court meeting, there was a lot of discussion about distributing the COVID-19 vaccines quickly and equitably.

Representatives from The University of North Texas Health Science Center were there to propose an expansion of vaccine distribution in the county.

Dr. Sylvia Trent-Adams, senior vice president and chief strategy officer with UNTHSC, presented the plan. She spoke about opportunities for new and current sites. It includes some the following:

  • Establishing mobile clinics, including in rural areas
  • Home-based access for elderly or disabled residents
  • School-based clinics for kids, teachers, staff, community members
  • Faith-based clinics
  • More sites in high-traffic areas
  • Shopping centers, parking lots, large entertainment venues
  • Worksite clinics for employees and family members
  • Smaller clinics in lower-populated areas

“We need to bring every tool we possibly can to address the need in Tarrant County. For those that are not already engaged, we need to offer them the opportunity to become engaged and to bring every resource that they have to the team," said Dr. Trent-Adams.

She stressed the importance of partnerships, to have the manpower to distribute the vaccines. Some recommended partnerships include:

  • Hospitals
  • Community-based clinics, including community health centers, nonprofits
  • Ambulatory and outpatient care centers
  • Pharmacies
  • Case management organizations
  • Business community
  • Industry, factory and transportation community
  • Farming community
  • Truck stops
  • Colleges and universities
  • Retired healthcare professionals
  • Healthcare professional students
  • Visiting nursing associations or other visiting health professionals
  • Occupational health clinics
  • Medical Reserve Corps
  • Community Emergency Response Teams (CERT)

She said it's important to work with organizations and leaders to educate the community and close the gap in health literacy and education, especially about the COVID-19 vaccine.

"We need to address those kinds of concerns and meet people where they are," said Dr. Trent-Adams.

The Tarrant County Commissioners agreed with UNTHSC's recommendations and are encouraged by the partnership. 

Tarrant County Judge Glen Whitley said, "Developing [a plan] is important, but the implementing is ten times more important." 

Whitley said having more vaccination teams set up in neighborhoods and rural areas will help get more shots in arms as quickly as possible.

Tarrant County Health Director Vinny Taneja said, "To have that help from UNT Health Science Center, I think it's a tremendous effort and a great partnership." 

Taneja said the county will immediately prioritize high outbreak zip codes and make progress with mobile clinics. He wants things to already be underway as the UNTHSC plan rolls out.