First doses administered at Dallas mega COVID vaccine site without major issues

The new mega vaccination site at Fair Park in Dallas administered its first doses Monday, reporting only minor issues.

One of those issues is that it's not moving along very quickly.

The mega-site opening is a step in the right direction. More sites are coming online, but the process is slow. And getting the vaccine into the hands of providers is even slower.

MORE: Mega COVID-19 vaccine site opens at Fair Park in Dallas

Dallas Fair Park ushered in people eager for their first dose of vaccine.

Monday’s recipients were mostly an older crowd who were deemed some of the most vulnerable.

"We are trying to put out locations in the places that are traditionally underserved by healthcare," said Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins.

Two other vaccination locations also went live on Monday at Eastfield College and Ellis Davis Field House. The goal for each site is to administer 500 doses a day, but they’re run by Parkland and only for its patients. 

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The Fair Park site started the day with about 1,800 appointments for the general public in groups 1A and 1B.

"We wanted to get people in slowly and not overwhelm the system at first," said Dallas County Health Director Dr. Philip Huang.

County leaders say the site will progressively ramp up with a goal of 2,000 doses a day and can scale up well beyond that. But the county’s state allotment this week is only 6,000 doses and likely not enough to finish the week. 

Along with the Dallas County Health Department, UT Southwestern was designated by the state as one of five distribution hubs in North Texas. It received 10,000 doses this week, contacting its most vulnerable patients to receive them.

Additional providers also receiving vaccines include some clinics associated with hospitals, but no pharmacies, grocery store chains or private practice doctor’s offices. 

"Be patient. Sign up" Jenkins urged. "We’ll get with you."

Dallas County COVID-19 Vaccine Registration

As the vaccine trickles out from the state, county leaders are working out the kinks at the mega-site, like the long walk from the parking lot. It’s a burden for elderly people with walkers and wheelchairs.

One woman stopped to rest until a wheelchair came to pick her up. Golf carts are also available to help.

But despite the hike, there was a general feeling of appreciation. It’s a small shot that’s a large victory for some. 

"I am very happy, especially for my mother. She is 89 years old," said Alejandra Villa, who received the vaccine with her mother.

The county has contacted the state for more vaccines. It’s unclear if they’ll get more.

The city says it will open more sites as vaccines become available.