Public Health Notes
By Catherine Colquitt, Tarrant County Public Health Medical Director
This article was originally published in the May/June 2022 issue of the Tarrant County Physician. You can read find the full magazine here.
Tarrant County Public Health (TCPH), with its long history of providing vaccinations and testing in response to outbreaks and exposures, is rapidly expanding mobile operations to meet more testing, vaccination, treatment, screening, surveillance, contact tracing, and risk reduction education needs in our rapidly growing county.
TCPH staff and leadership have learned much during the COVID-19 response about taking services “local.” We have benefitted greatly from working with such partners as county, regional, state, and federal government agencies, as well as first responders, municipalities, the Tarrant County Medical Society, school districts, colleges and universities, primary and secondary private schools, preschools, childcare facilities, places of worship, and municipal and state emergency management and preparedness experts.
Responding to the need for mobile services with COVID-19 has reshaped healthcare delivery and has redefined preventive risk reduction and early/expedited treatment strategies for communicable diseases. It may also help us to move closer to the health equity we wish to achieve in our county and beyond. The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed disparities in access to vaccines, testing, accurate COVID-19 information, and expert advice regarding COVID-19 risk reduction strategies (masking, social distancing, practicing cough and hand hygiene, self-isolating when ill, quarantining after COVID-19 exposure, and vaccination).
As of March 24, 2022, some 2,894,773 COVID-19 vaccinations have been administered in Tarrant County, with 1,338,110 people (66.24 percent of eligible Tarrant County residents) having received one dose, and 1,179,080 people (58.37 percent of eligible Tarrant County residents) being considered fully vaccinated with one Johnson and Johnson vaccine or two doses of mRNA vaccines.1
Essential clinical services offered by TCPH include immunizations; HIV testing, prevention, and treatment; STD screening and treatment; tuberculosis treatment; screening and contact investigations; drug treatment for latent tuberculosis infection; travel medicine clinics for advice; and vaccinations essential for safe international travel. We believe that a hybrid approach to the delivery of these services is vital to addressing health equity and access issues that could otherwise interfere with our objective of safeguarding the public’s health. We continue to operate our brick and mortar clinics across the county, but we must be nimble to serve communities which can’t easily access services in our fixed locations. We have a highly visible VaxMobile (an articulated city bus provided by our Fort Worth Transportation Authority partners), and we have purchased five mobile immunization trailers customized for the purpose. We have also purchased a 26-foot-long mobile van in which we can see clients for education, testing, and treatment.
We are ready, willing, and coming soon to your neighborhood. Remember, “Public Health is Where You Are”!
1.Data from Texas Dept of State health Services COVID-19 Dashboard