ALAMANCE COUNTY, N.C. — As the push to vaccinate people continues, one health department is teaming up with a health care provider to get more shots into the arms of those in rural and marginalized communities.
Health leaders in Alamance County are holding a mass vaccination clinic.
At first, they’re focusing on school employees, but could soon be able to vaccinate three times as many people using the site.
At the J.R. Outlet Mall off Eric Lane in Burlington, the first 600 doses will be given to teachers and childcare providers Saturday.
The following week people 65 and up will be able to get their vaccines at this location.
“We want to make sure we’re able to reach our rural areas and be able to reach our more historically marginalized locations,” said Tony Lo Giudice, Alamance County health director.
The county’s newest mass vaccination site will be held in partnership with Cone Health.
“We’re going to become more efficient. We’re going to be able to combine staffs and be able to get more shots out to more individuals when we have more vaccines to do so,” Lo Giudice said.
Taking it from its outdoor location at the Career and Technical Education Center to an indoor one.
“Unfortunately, when you have a drive thru site accidents occur, so we want to improve that safety and we want to bring the operation indoors in a safer environment,” Lo Giudice said.
At the CTEC site, they were only able to do about 500 doses a day.
“Once there’s more vaccine supplies coming and we have reallocated the amount, I think for that Eric Lane site, our goal is around 1,500 vaccinations a day,” Lo Giudice said.
Lo Giudice said supply from the state has been lower than the demand.
Health leaders at Cone said it’s the reason they are still trying to tackle their wait list.
“We have a waiting list that they’re working on. We have folks from cone health who are contacting all those people on those waiting lists, reaching out to them to get them appointments,” said David Thompson, Cone Health Regional Center for Infectious Disease.
Health leaders agree public transportation has helped get people vaccinated too.
Lo Giudice said City of Burlington officials have been on daily calls with health leaders to talk about bussing people to sites. He believes more people are already using public transportation for this reason.
“It is vital for anyone that doesn’t have transportation. This is just one way, if they’re in that group getting to the vaccination site and get them vaccinated,” Lo Giudice said.
“We have a bus stop that’s going to be right there at that location so people who are dependent on the bus transportation can get dropped off right there at that vaccination site,” Thompson said.
Until counties get more supply, the focus will be accessibility.
“People are more likely, I think, to get it when it’s nearby,” said community member, Jocelyn Safrit. “I was on three lists.”
As the fight against COVID-19 19 continues, health leaders are asking for patience.
“Be patient especially when there’s long waiting lines. There will be a spot for you. Again, there’s a lot of demand and low supply,” Lo Giudice said.
For the 65 and up population vaccinations don’t start until next Thursday.
To be added to the waiting list go to conehealth.com.