Texas Makes Any Adult Eligible For COVID-19 Vaccine - 03/28/21 - Segment 2
KAREN BORTA: Tarrant County Judge Glen Whitley is excited about the announcement that all adults are now eligible for a COVID vaccine. He was asked recently if that means the county will change its procedure for signing people up and distributing the vaccine.
GLEN WHITLEY: Hear me real clear. We will never have a site that is just basically, y'all come. Because if you do, there'll be 2.1-- well, it won't be 2.1 million, but there'll be a lot of people coming, and will have a huge line. So what I think we have to do and continue to do, under these new guidelines where everybody is eligible, and basically just say-- once we've worked through the people who've registered, then it will be a matter of when you call into the center-- our calling center-- it'll just be a matter of, OK, where do you live? And if you want to go to this location, the soonest appointment we can give you is between 2:00 and 4:00 on the following Friday.
- Is the County for such a test?
GLEN WHITLEY: We will be ready, yes. We have got sites all over the county. We've had a scarcity of vaccines, not a scarcity of people ready to give the vaccines. I feel like we're ready. If you looked at our schedule, you notice that just about every schedule, has closed days on there-- or limited hours on there. We believe that, just as we had hoped, that public health has been getting those people ready. So that when we do have enough vaccines, that they can go, and we can extend the hours or extend the days.
- And personally, how is your reaction to this?
GLEN WHITLEY: I'm very excited, because now we don't have to-- you know, I'm constantly hearing, well wait a minute. My neighbor, who is much younger than me and is very healthy is getting the vaccine. Why haven't I been called yet? And so this way, we can basically put everybody in line, and we're going to get the vaccines out as quickly as we get them here.
KAREN BORTA: Last Tuesday, Tarrant County's Public Health Director said, the message now is simple-- sign up for the vaccine. He said the county will follow the guidance from the state about eligibility, even though all adults can now get the shot.
- You should give priority to people 80 and older, so they want to make sure that they don't have a long wait. And then also that they're saying, is that if anybody registered under the previous categories, 1A, 1B, or 1C, and they're yet in your database, give them priority first also.
So, as of this morning, we had 42,000 people in our database that are currently eligible under 1A, 1B, and 1C, so they'll obviously get their priority. And they were 102,000 people that were just registered, not eligible under any of these categories, so they will in one-fell-swoop become eligible on Monday. Now, they they'll get priority because they signed up first compared to everybody else who's going to sign up now. So that's what I've been saying. Everybody needs to sign up, because when this opens, then it's open season on vaccine, right? Everybody comes.
- What about zip code priority? [INAUDIBLE]
- So we did away with the zip code prioritization. We went with social vulnerability index.
- Yes, I mean, but that's still--
- That is still going to be in place, yes. Yes. Yeah, that's a commissioner's court-approved policy, type of decision, that we need to prioritize people that are highly vulnerable. So we won't be getting rid of that.
- Why not?
- Well, because when vaccine opens, those social determinants that make people more vulnerable, don't go away. So as soon as they sign up, we're going to prioritize them, because they're in a vulnerable situation-- either the housing that they're living in, or in the social conditions that they live in, transportation issues, health conditions-- so it's amalgamation of like 16 different factors that may make them more vulnerable to any illness, including COVID-19.
- So the people who have been waiting this whole time to sign up, could still find themselves way down low on the list, starting Monday because of that? So should they really still sign up?
- Well, they should still sign up, but yes, the prioritization on the vulnerability index is not really going away. Because that is to, again, create an equity situation. There are people that are going to have issues. They might not be able to sign up. They might sign up and be left behind in line, so that's why that whole privatization plan was created-- to give socially vulnerable people a priority ahead of others.
KAREN BORTA: As Texas opens up the vaccinations for adults, there's a push to get the shot to people who can't make it to a vaccination hub or a clinic. The statewide push next, on "To the Point."