Garland council member calls for transparency and equity in COVID-19 vaccination efforts

Dallas News

Garland city council member Deborah Morris has called for “transparency” and “equity” in the distribution and administration of the COVID-19 vaccine following “private” invitations for people to get vaccinated.

Morris, who represents Garland’s District 2, made the call in an open letter to Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins and Frederick Cerise, the president and CEO of Parkland Hospital.

“I write you jointly to state my concerns (and frankly my disbelief) about actions this week involving both DCHHS and Parkland issuing private/selective invitations to certain Dallas residents to receive walk-up vaccinations while other Dallas County residents were required to register and wait for an appointment,” Morris wrote.

“Taxpayer-funded vaccines being offered quietly to certain people or groups selected unilaterally by an elected official is not how we’re supposed to operate,” she continued.

Morris, who also serves as Garland’s deputy mayor pro tem, said she was made aware of the “private” vaccine invitations by State Representative Rhetta Bowers and a Dallas County resident.

She said she would have no problem with a “lifeboat” approach to vaccinate the most impacted people in the county, but that it must be done equitably through metrics such as most-impacted zip code. She also said that many Garland residents, including some in her district, do not have internet access and would have no way to learn about the vaccine invitations.

As of Sunday, nine percent of Garland’s total population – some 21,887 people – had been infected with the coronavirus since the pandemic started. Of that total, 3,596 cases were still considered active, and at least 193 people had died.

While Morris said she saw the effort to reach out to residents from historically neglected parts of Dallas “noble,” she said she did not “understand either the secrecy involved or the rationale behind defining Dallas County’s underserved population as residing solely in South Dallas.”

Morris said her district includes “some of the oldest and most disadvantaged neighborhoods in Garland,” and stressed that her constituents “include many Black, Hispanic, and Asian residents,” who “were treated as second-class citizens” by not receiving the same invitations.

“Make it transparent, countywide, and data-driven, and you’ll have my enthusiastic support for such measures,” she concluded. “We have 30 cities in Dallas County who depend on your transparent and equitable services. I would appeal to you not to forget us.”

Garland received its first shipment of Moderna COVID-19 vaccines last month, and the city has started administering the doses to healthcare professionals and other frontline workers.


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