Chapel Hill, North Carolina Across central North Carolina, specialists who talk about major hospital systems expressed their frustration on Monday about customizing the COVID-19 vaccine.
“We haven’t had as many doses as we’d like this week,” said Chris Tart, vice president of professional services at Cape Fear Valley Health. Tarte said his organization ordered 10,000 doses and got half that number.
“UNC Health received fewer COVID vaccines than expected for this week, which resulted in fewer vaccination appointments,” said UNC Health spokesperson Alan Wolf. Wolf said the allocation of 10,000 doses from UNC Health was “less than half” the allocation that was expected.
In Orange County, the situation is more serious. “Orange County, for the third consecutive week, has not received a shipment of the first doses. We have exhausted our supply of the first doses and will only be doing second doses this week,” said spokesperson Todd McGee.
Spokeswoman Stacy Bird said the Wake County Health Department had only 975 doses for delivery this week, but had requested between 3,000 and 4,000 doses.
So where does it all go? The country is resetting how doses are distributed in anticipation of mass vaccination events, but none has yet been identified in the Triangle.
This is something Durham resident Maggie Hight would like to see.
“I think the hospital can only do so much,” she said. “They have limited staff. I think mass vaccination sites would be a good idea. We need mass vaccination sites very bad, because there are so many of us waiting.”
Christian Cleveland, also from Durham, agreed.
“I think the top priority should only be getting the largest number of shots with the largest number of weapons,” he said.
Ian Buchanan, Head of UNC Health, Ambulatory and Post-acute Care: “This is really a matter of supply and demand.” “We are well aware of the anxiety this causes for everyone who is now eligible to receive a vaccine and cannot get an appointment or who spends hours online trying to get an appointment.”
According to Beard, North Carolina tells counties every weekend how much vaccine they will get the following week.
“We intentionally do not set the dates until we know how much the state will send us,” she said.
“We don’t want someone to come to Wake Public Health for an appointment, excited and ready to get this life-saving shot, and then come in here and get out,” she said.
“It’s a bit frustrating for all the hospitals, all the partners for the state and the CDC, that it’s hard to plan from week to week,” said Tarte, of Cape Fear Valley Health.
Durham County, Duke University Health System, and UNC Health practice a similar process. Everyone says they won’t have to cancel appointments scheduled for this week and only expect appointments to be scheduled for about a week at a time, giving people just a few days to plan.
“UNC Health does not cancel or postpone any appointments,” Wolf said. “UNC Health sets vaccination dates each week based on the supply received.”
In Cape Fear Valley, Tarte said they are limiting how vaccine clinics are run.
“We have made a limited number of daily visits to our sites, but we will not be able to do so this week due to lack of supplies,” she said.
Every county in North Carolina distributes vaccines differently, and state health officials said it’s OK to cross county boundaries to get a vaccine. Seniors 65 and older and other eligible groups who still need a vaccine can call the state’s COVID-19 vaccine hotline at 1-877-490-6642 or visit covid19.ncdhhs.gov/findyourspot.