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Local Leaders Ask Businesses To Help Boost Low Vaccine Registrations Among Underserved Populations

A long line of people stand, waiting for their vaccines.
Keren Carrión
/
KERA News
Long lines mostly comprised of seniors and their caretakers form during the first day of the mega vaccine center at Fair Park, in Dallas, on Jan. 11, 2021.

County and city officials are hoping business owners can help get employees on vaccine waiting lists, and to help register members of the communities they serve.

Citing lower numbers of vaccine registrants among communities of color, Dallas-area political and business leaders are pleading with local businesses to help. They want business owners to help employees get on the official waiting list.

“We’re seeing that the numbers are lagging,” said Dallas County Commissioner Elba Garcia. “Especially when we see registration of Latinos and African Americans.”

Garcia joined Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins, leaders of local business groups, and several Dallas city council members in a press conference on Friday.

“We need every beauty shop, barber shop, every local diner, local restaurant — we need everyone registering, helping to register individuals to get the vaccine,” said City Councilman Casey Thomas.

Data through Jan. 24th shows city residents who are Black and Hispanic are registering at percentages far below their share of the city population. The data from the Parkland Center for Clinical Innovation was published Thursday by the Dallas Morning News.

A lack of registrants of color risks fewer vaccine appointments for those communities and continued inequitable distribution of a potentially life-saving measure.

“For instance, we are going to run out — at the current rate — in the next two to three weeks of Hispanics over the age of 65 because of a lack of registration,” Jenkins said.

The reasons for the disparity in registration include less access to the internet and less access to the private health care system. Hospitals and doctors are more often located in more affluent parts of the city and county.

Thomas and other councilmembers addressed another potential roadblock: lack of trust in the health care system and the current crop of COVID-19 vaccines, despite approval by the FDA.

“We need more of our community leaders, we need more of our clergy, faith leaders, to say ‘this vaccine is safe,’” Thomas said. “Trusted voices make all the difference. You can quote me on that.”

People can register with Dallas County at this link. The Department of State Health Services has every hub (and registration links) listed here.

Hubs are required to take Texas registrants regardless of geography, although the sites are currently only vaccinating people who fall within the state’s Phase 1A and Phase 1B categories.

There are also several registration events happening across the city in the coming days.

Although vaccine supplies are still much lower than demand, the state of Texas said Thursday that the federal government has said its allotment will rise from 300,000 doses a week to 380,000 doses.

Jenkins is also hopeful the North Texas region will be home to a vaccine “megasite.” That could add 12,000 doses per day.

Quickly and fairly utilizing any increase in supply, however, depends on having a robust list of registrants. Those people can then be contacted for an appointment.

“So that when those vaccines come, we can get those shots in arms, people can get safe, the community can become safe, and we can get back to life again,” said Dale Petroskey, president of the Dallas Regional Chamber of Commerce.

Got a tip? Email Bret Jaspers at bjaspers@kera.org. You can follow Bret on Twitter @bretjaspers.

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