Dallas County approves $5 million in contracts for vaccine efforts

Dallas County commissioners agreed Wednesday to spend roughly $5 million more on COVID-19 vaccination efforts.

The money is aimed toward making the vaccination process simpler.

About $4 million will go toward a call center run by a private company. The rest will go toward education campaigns and a paperless registration system, which relies on people having and using the technology to make it work.

It's unclear if the plans will help alleviate long registration lines, like the one seen last week in Oak Cliff.

County officials say the $5 million price tag will be paid for with grant money the county received from the federal government.

It’s a lot of money and a sign that things haven’t been running as smooth as some would like.

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There was a line of vehicles Wednesday waiting to enter Fair Park for Dallas County’s COVID-19 vaccination site. People waited anywhere between 20 minutes to two hours.

As vaccinations continue, registration efforts were the topic of a special called Dallas County Commissioners Court meeting.

Wednesday evening, commissioners approved more than $5 million in contracts.

The biggest was a contract with Chime Solutions, a bilingual operation center. It will provide 50 people, 12-hours a day, to operate a call center for registrations. That call center will help register people who may not have access to the internet.

"This is somebody that has a national footprint. Not something that we’ve set up in the kitchen or the backroom of one of our offices," said Dallas County Commissioner John Wiley Price.

We saw the demand to register in person last week in Oak Cliff as dozens lined up outside a supermarket. Many of them did not have internet access.

But for those who do, the county wants the registration process to go paperless. It’s going to spend roughly $600,000 for the paperless system.

People with access to the internet and a cell phone will get a QR code when it’s time to get the vaccine. They can show the code when they arrive for their appointment, hopefully cutting down on wait times and better ensuring the ones showing up actually have appointments.

County officials are trying to work out the kinks during this evolving process. The county also hired a marketing firm for community outreach and education.

County commissioners were supposed to vote whether to allow people who aren’t healthcare workers, first responders or under 75 years old to get the vaccine, but that discussion was taken off the meeting agenda.

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