RALEIGH, N.C. — North Carolina’s vaccine rollout is ahead of schedule.
Governor Roy Cooper is opening COVID-19 vaccines to some in Group 4 starting next Wednesday, a week earlier than anticipated.
“I am hopeful that with the group we are getting now, especially with these folks at high risk, they will come on and that we can get them taken care of,” said Susan Hayes, the Randolph County Public Health Director.
Appointments will open to adults with high-risk medical conditions and those living in congregate living settings.
State health officials bumped up the timeline based on healthcare provider feedback and expected vaccine supply.
“We have greater supply, but I really don’t think the demand is as high as it was in the beginning,” said Hayes.
The state’s expanded vaccine eligibility comes as more vaccine sites open.
Several county health departments are reporting a slowdown in demand as more providers become available. Appointments that used to fill in minutes are now taking hours or days.
There’s also been a rise in no-shows and appointment cancellations. Providers believe it’s happening because people are making appointments in multiple places to get the first available slot, a potentially damaging trend to a county’s supply.
“Right now, we are doing really well, we are not wasting vaccine but if people don’t show up for their appointments as we’ve seen recently then that is a problem,” said Hayes.
In Randolph County, if they have more doses than people to give them to, they try to work ahead of schedule.
“What we will do sometimes is call people from the next day and say, ‘Hey, can you come on in today? We’ve got a vaccine for you,'” said Hayes.
Health departments feel fortunate to have the supplies they do and are looking forward to getting more people vaccinated sooner.
“We are ready to handle them. I don’t see any problems in us doing that, so I am glad that they’ve opened it up to them and I want to see us get them taken care of,” said Hayes.
Everyone else in Group 4 will be able to get their shots starting April 7.