State close to exhausting supply of first doses of COVID-19 vaccine
Special to Iredell Free News
RALEIGH — The N.C. Department of Health and Human Services launched a new online tool to help North Carolinians know when they will be eligible to get their vaccine. Find My Vaccine Group walks users through a series of questions to determine which vaccine group they are in. People can then sign up to be notified when their group can get vaccinated.
“Given the very limited supplies we currently have, there may be wait times, but every North Carolinian has a spot. A spot for accurate information. A spot in line. A spot to take their shot,” said NCDHHS Secretary Dr. Mandy K. Cohen.
North Carolina’s goal is to vaccinate as many people as quickly and equitably as possible. Local vaccine providers have worked tirelessly to ramp up and vaccinate people under difficult circumstances. This past week, in response to indications that the federal government might base future allocations on the supply states have on hand, the state and providers worked to rapidly administer vaccinations and exhaust North Carolina’s current supply of first doses.
As of Sunday evening, 88 percent of all first doses have been reported as being administered. Providers reported administering more than 260,000 doses this past week. As of this morning, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ranked North Carolina 10th in total vaccines administered and 29th in vaccines administered per 100,000 people. These numbers were achieved by three actions the state took, including facilitating large-scale vaccination events, asking providers to aggressively ramp up their vaccine throughput this past week with any needed support from the state and working with many providers to stand up special events reaching underserved communities.
Beginning on January 27, North Carolina will have only 120,000 doses to allocate across the entire state. A large portion of those doses are committed to the large-scale events planned several weeks ago to address the backlog in vaccine. As a result, many providers are getting small or no allocations for the coming week. Through no fault of their own, they will be postponing appointments.
“As long as we are getting such a small amount of vaccine as a state, there are going to be challenges and shortages as we try to ensure equitable access to vaccine, while getting shots into arms quickly. We understand this is hard for providers who are doing everything right,” Cohen said.
NCDHHS will be sharing more detailed guidance on the process for allocations for the coming weeks to ensure more transparency and certainty now that the state has largely exhausted the backlog of vaccine supply. Because vaccine supply is limited, states must vaccinate people in groups. To save lives and slow the spread of COVID-19, independent state and federal public health advisory committees recommend first protecting health care workers, people who are at the highest risk of being hospitalized or dying and those at high risk of exposure to COVID-19.
North Carolina is currently vaccinating people in Groups 1 and 2, which include health care workers, long-term care staff and residents, and people 65 and older. Group 3 will include frontline essential workers; Group 4 will include adults at high risk for exposure and increased risk of severe illness; and Group 5 will include everyone. Detailed information about each group is online at YourShotYourSpot.nc.gov (English) or covid19.ncdhhs.gov/vacuna (Spanish).
Future updates will include a vaccine finder and other interactive features so that every North Carolinian has a spot for information and is able to take their shot.
Until the country begins to get ahead of the pandemic, the CDC says everyone should keep wearing a mask, waiting at least six feet apart and washing hands often. North Carolina continues to have high rates of cases, hospitalizations and the percent of tests that are positive. A secretarial directive remains in effect. People should stay home and only leave for essential purposes such as buying food, accessing health care and going to school or work.
For more information and to find your vaccine group, visit findmygroup.nc.gov.