Dallas Continues to Wrangle Vaccine Allocation; QR Codes to Close Backdoor Link Sharing

The city of Arlington's vaccine site inside the Esports stadium.
The city of Arlington's vaccine site inside the Esports stadium. Lauren Drewes Daniels
This weekend the city of Dallas unveiled its attempt at implementing a mass vaccination and officials subsequently issued apologies for the mess that ensued. Tuesday when the Dallas County Commissioners Court convened for their biweekly meeting, more details were offered on what went wrong, including an explanation for the hour-long waits and many being turned away.

Neighboring communities, like Arlington and Denton, have rolled out smooth vaccination sites. Today Denton held a massive drive-thru for 10,000 people with their county judge describing it, according to WFAA, as "Chick-fil-A efficiency." Arlington is pushing thousands a day through their ESports stadium site, with the entire process taking less than a hour.

So, what caused the problems at the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center on Saturday?

“Please don’t take this as anything negative towards any of our partners,” Jenkins said during the meeting. “They estimate 40% of who showed up used a forwarded [online appointment] link. We have seen that the people who use forwarded links, and I don’t want to be too racial about this, but they are overwhelmingly white and overwhelmingly from certain ZIP codes.”

A QR code system will be implemented starting Wednesday, closing that loophole. This will allow county officials to ensure a more equitable vaccine distribution plan to ZIP codes across the county.

Jenkins gave the example that if Betty Smith shows up with Mable Johnson’s QR code, Betty won’t get a shot.

“There’s no way to fake your way in and pretend you thought you had an appointment,” Jenkins said. “It was very easy to forward a link to your friends, and that is going to change later today and completely by tomorrow [Wednesday],” he said.

Jenkins says nearly all registration systems in the county have been breached in some way, “People are very vigilant in trying to get a shot," adding later that "everybody is trying to cheat."

The slow and bureaucratic ways of government purchasing were mostly to blame. Jenkins explained when they set out to create a registration system, they had to work with an existing contract. This vendor augmented one of its systems, “but there was a glitch there so wide you could drive a truck through.”

“So now if someone posts their link for a vaccine appointment, then shares it on NextDoor,” an example Jenkins used, “it won’t work.”

The number of vaccines the county is receiving is increasing each week. The first shipment the week of Dec. 14 included 27,300 shots. This week the county has received 48,000 doses. More than 251,675 people have received a shot in Dallas County to date.

More than 511,000 people are registered for an appointment. 

You can register for a vaccine here, and if you have questions, call 469-749-9900. The hotline hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Assistance is available in English and Spanish.
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Lauren Drewes Daniels is the Dallas Observer's food editor. She started writing about local restaurants, chefs, beer and kouign-amanns in 2011. She's driven through two dirt devils and is certain they were both some type of cosmic force.