State health leaders warn people to be cautious with possible shortage of vaccines

Coronavirus

RANDOLPH COUNTY, N.C. — North Carolina is in warp speed mode to administer as many vaccines as it has on hand, but the struggle to sign up for vaccination appointments will continue to be a challenge as supplies run short.

On Thursday, Dr. Mandy Cohen said the state has pushed all facilities to use all of their vaccinations every week saying, “that is our goal, to run out of vaccines every week before the next shipment comes, and that’s what we’ve directed to our local health departments and hospitals.”

From a health standpoint, it is a good problem to have knowing that North Carolinians want to get the vaccine. As of mid-January, 99% of North Carolina counties are either labeled Red or Orange signifying they have a concerning number of positive COVID-19 cases.

The state receives around 125,000 vaccines per week, which are then distributed to the various hospitals, and health departments. The amount received is determined by size, placement, and if the infrastructure is in place to administer the vaccines.

Cohen said that the local health facilities have increased the speed of vaccinations by more than 130 percent.

While the state’s vaccination speeds are hopeful, Cohen explained the state is running short of vaccines.

“Everyone who wants a vaccine can have it, but I want to caution everyone that those vaccine numbers are very limited, so it will be a number of months before vaccines are made widely available,” Cohen said.

On Friday, the state is expected to update health facilities on how many vaccinations they will receive next Wednesday.

“We’re still just trying to figure out what is our operational tempo to get those vaccines out,” Cohen said.

The state health department has begun to make modifications to streamline the process.

Among them, the process of transferring vaccinations to from one facility to another.

Cohen said that on Wednesday roughly 40,000 vaccines were transferred between facilities.

This allows faculties that, after their last vaccination appointment of the day, they are encouraged to transfer those doses to a facility nearby that will use them on patients that day.

Cohen also encouraged facilities to keep a waitlist to call approved individuals if appointments become available, or if there are doses already mixed, instead of throwing them out to, “find the nearest arm of who wants to get vaccinated and get that in.”

That is after all qualified candidates have been contacted.

“We don’t want to waste,” Cohen stressed.

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