GREENSBORO, N.C. — Thousands of people across the Triad have gotten at least one of their COVID-19 shots. But it’s just the start to make sure everyone will get some protection against the virus.
One thing that state and local health leaders are working on is getting local health care providers approved in a process that would allow them to allow give out the vaccine.
For the most part, vaccines have been distributed to larger health care systems and health departments because those groups would have the biggest impact.
But as more people are getting their vaccines, smaller providers are lining up and are working to get their own vaccine allotments to help their patients.
“Probably within the next few weeks to a month, or so we’re going to see more and more doctor’s offices and medical professionals being able to be a provider themselves,” said Dr. Iulia Vann, the director for the Guilford County Health Department.
That’s the hope.
It’s something that Sheri Raymer, the CEO of Eagle Physicians, a private practice medical group in Greensboro, has been working on since the end of January.
“You have to upload photographs of your freezers and put them in the application, so they can be sure that you could manage and take good care of the vaccine,” she said.
She told FOX8 there’s a lengthy application process through the state health department.
In order to even get into the COVID Vaccine Management System (CVMS), they had to appoint different vaccine coordinators and handle a lot of paperwork.
“We had to go back and run reports and estimate our highest monthly volume of flu vaccines,” said Raymer. “They’re using that, I think, as a proxy for how many COVID vaccines you might give.”
She said it’s all worth it to help people feel comfortable with getting their shots.
“It’s a little bit unusual to drive to the Greensboro Coliseum and park your car and walk into this vast space with all of these people waiting in line,” said Raymer. “Many patients want to come to their own provider to receive this type of care.”
Eagle Physicians is now waiting to hear if, and when, they will get any vaccine allotments.
Both Guilford County Health leaders, and Raymer, think that with the approved Johnson & Johnson vaccine, it could be soon.
“It’s going to be a game changer,” said Raymer.
“It’s only one dose, it doesn’t require ultra-low cold chain storage,” added Vann. “I know that more providers are going to be able to distribute the vaccine to their patients and the entire community.”
Raymer told FOX8 that Eagle Physicians have been helping their patients navigate the current vaccination process to get appointments.
While she does understand why some people might be hesitant to get their shot at a mass vaccination site instead of their doctor’s office, she’s encouraging everyone who has the opportunity to get the vaccine, to get it as soon as they can.