Dallas County’s initial COVID vaccines went to these affluent northern neighborhoods
In the neighborhood around Dallas’ first COVID-19 vaccination center in Fair Park, only 97 residents were among the first 3,000 to be vaccinated in the first week of operation, according to a Dallas Morning News analysis of preliminary county data released Saturday morning were.
Meanwhile, more than half of the life-saving recordings went to residents who live in districts above Interstate 30, which has separated the city for decades.
This first limited data cache, which is incomplete, has only been broken down by zip code and does not contain specific demographic data such as race, gender and age.
More than 10,000 people were vaccinated at Fair Park this week. And while southern Dallas County has a higher concentration of impoverished neighborhoods, northern Dallas also has its pockets. The grounds of the Fair Park, together with other state-approved vaccination centers, are open to all residents.
However, this snapshot seems to indicate that elected officials may not achieve their goal of equitable access to the COVID-19 vaccine.
City and county officials had put their hopes in vaccinating a fair number of black and Latino residents by opening the first “mega” vaccination center in South Dallas. Misunderstandings with the public led to a different conclusion: residents of the wealthiest communities in north Dallas rushed to the front lines.
The three zip codes that received the most vaccines were all in north Dallas. According to the data, the postcode 75230 in north-central came first with 164 shots. This was followed by University Park zip code 75225, which received 152. 96 people were also vaccinated at Far North Dallas 75248 ZIP Code 75248.
One of the most severely affected zip codes during the pandemic was 75227, including Pleasant Grove. Only 47 residents in this southern part of Dallas were vaccinated in the town’s early days. And only eight people in Fair Park’s 75210 zip code were vaccinated.
“It’s just not enough to have a community vaccination center,” said Amber Sims, co-founder of the Imagining Freedom Institute, a nonprofit that focuses on racial justice.
The sharp differences between these communities can be seen in household income, according to the US Census Bureau. For example, in 75230, including Preston Hollow, the median household income is 91,596 while in Pleasant Groves 75227 it is only $ 43,890. The median household income in the Dallas-Fort Worth area is $ 70,281.
While the state has made the vaccine available to frontline workers, people over 65, and people with a serious illness that can make COVID-19 worse, Dallas County prioritized North Texans 75 years ago, likely depleting hospital resources when sick will.
Before the coronavirus pandemic, blacks and Latinos were generally less healthy and have fewer medical resources than whites. The pandemic only made things worse in the US and here in Texas. An earlier analysis by The News found that young blacks and Latinos die disproportionately often than white counterparts.
Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson and District Judge Clay Jenkins accused themselves and their colleagues this week of sending mixed messages. In the meantime, new cases of the coronavirus continue to be reported in record numbers. Hospitals are at the breaking point. And a contagious strain of the virus is picking up speed. The first reported case in Dallas County was announced on Saturday.
County Commissioner Elba Garcia, who represents western Dallas County, said local governments in charge of vaccination were facing numerous challenges – particularly a limited supply of shots.
“The challenges are many and the bottom line is that we don’t have enough vaccine,” she said. “I have a lot of demand and not enough product.”
Garcia said the county needs to work to focus on the most vulnerable zip codes that it has already identified.
However, medical disparity experts and community advocates say they aren’t shocked that blacks and Latinos, who typically live in concentrated neighborhoods below Interstate 30, are again being left behind. Officials, they say, rely on modern systems that have created yawning gaps in health care among whites, blacks and Latinos. And they have done little to remove known barriers to access to life-saving medicines.
DeSoto’s 81-year-old Cooper looks away when he receives the COVID-19 vaccine at Fair Park in Dallas on Thursday, January 14, 2021. A limited number of COVID-19 vaccine shots will be available on Thursday at the Fair Park for North Texans 75 and older. (Juan Figueroa / The Dallas Morning News)(Juan Figueroa / employee photographer)
“It will take more than a couple of city officials to say they took the vaccine,” Sims said. “Dallas will continue to need to grapple with its history of racism and inequality.”
While Garcia wants the county to make progress on the hardest hit zip codes, she also admitted that the black and Latin American communities have signaled greater distrust of the vaccine and that the county needs to work more directly in the neighborhood to build trust in to strengthen the medicine.
The Dallas County Health Department, Parkland Health & Hospital System, and UT Southwestern Medical Center are recognized by the state as vaccination centers and work together to vaccinate people from a single registration list previously established by the county. Any North Texan can register on the county’s website or call 469-749-9900.
After a few days in which people aged 75 and over can be vaccinated without an appointment in the Fair Park, the district will need an RSVP again.
“Vaccine equity for the hardest hit communities is very important to successfully fighting this virus and saving as many lives as possible,” Clay Jenkins, a Dallas County judge, said in a statement. “By visiting an appointment-only system, at least at the beginning we can ensure that the vaccine is evenly distributed to all zip codes. To keep it that way, it’s imperative that everyone do everything in their power to encourage registrations, especially in zip codes below the digital divide where registrations are currently lagging behind. “