Ellis County Judge Todd Little announced Monday evening that a new partnership with Tarrant County allows Ellis residents to register for the COVID-19 vaccine and receive it at a Tarrant County distribution site.

“As of today (Monday, Jan. 11), Ellis and Tarrant (counties) have established a partnership to allow Ellis County residents who qualify under distribution phase 1A (health care workers) and 1B (age 65 and older and those with a medical condition that increases their risk of severe disease or death) to be eligible to register in Tarrant County for a COVID-19 vaccination,” according to a county media release.

Ellis County residents in qualifying groups 1A and 1B may now register for a vaccine at https://bit.ly/3sbcebk.

The announcement also said a local vaccination hub is being sought.

“Ellis County and city of Waxahachie officials are working closely with the state of Texas to develop an Ellis County vaccination hub to administer the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine to the community,” the release reads.

Request for more vaccines

The partnership with Tarrant County comes as other efforts continue to help get Ellis County residents vaccinated as quickly as possible. Friday, Jan. 8, saw Little and each of the county’s mayors sign a letter that was then submitted to the Texas Department of State Health Services, Public Health Region 2-3.

Within the letter, the request was made for the state to increase the county’s COVID-19 vaccine allotment, with the local officials saying it is too low to meet the actual needs.

While the county has a number of vaccine providers, including various pharmacies, Ennis Regional Medical Center and Baylor Scott & White Medical Center – Waxahachie, the vaccines sent here haven’t come near meeting the needs of the 1A vaccine-eligible group, much less the 1B vaccine-eligible group that’s been added into the mix for the first vaccines being offered, according to the letter.

“Ellis County is the fifth largest county in the North Central Texas Trauma Regional Advisory Council Trauma Service Area E,” the county judge and mayors’ letter reads, noting also the county’s population of about 200,000 and its location on the southern borders of Dallas and Tarrant counties.

“The majority of our population resides along the border of the most populated counties in North Texas,” the letter reads. “With that, many in our workforce leave the county to their place of employment, which includes Tarrant and Dallas counties. This creates more exposure and vulnerability within our community.

“In the past three weeks, Ellis County has been allotted a total of 1,600 vaccinations to eight Texas Department of State Health Services approved vaccine providers,” the letter continues. “With the low amount, we are not able to vaccinate any of our first responders, independent school district nurses or other hospital staff within our community. Our most vulnerable populations that are categorized in Tier 1A and 1B are eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccination but do not have access to these resources.

“Ellis County, in partnership with our city municipality leadership, is asking you take Ellis County in consideration to allot additional COVID-19 vaccinations to our community,” the letter reads. “After speaking with each vaccine provider (local pharmacies and hospitals), our full allotment of 1,600 has already been distributed with the exception of Ennis Regional Medical Center. Ennis Regional Medical Center received their 200-vaccine allotment Monday and are currently working on vaccinating staff.”

Other statistics cited by the letter included:

• mobile testing sites averaging a positivity rate between 20% and 30%

• local hospitals at maximum capacity

The hospitals’ loads are similar to what’s been seen in the rest of TSA Region E, with Ellis County in the top four highest percentage since early November, according to the letter, which notes that the county’s hospitals are averaging from 30% to 40% COVID-19 patients.

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