ALBEMARLE — Following a call by N.C. hospitals for Gov. Roy Cooper to provide “a better plan and way forward on vaccine deployment,” counties are experiencing shortages of the COVID vaccines. In a release Monday, the Stanly County Health Department said it was rescheduling appointments for the the vaccine on January 27-29. The county’s vaccine phone system says no new appointments are being allowed due to the shortage.
The county said the Jan. 27-29 appointments are being rescheduled for the same day and time on the following week. For residents who had these appointments, that means:
Wednesday, January 27 appointments are rescheduled for February 3
Thursday, January 28 appointments are rescheduled for February 4
Friday, January 29 appointments are rescheduled for February 5
Second doses are currently remaining on schedule.
Cooper’s health secretary, Mandy Cohen, previously received a letter from Stacie Saunders, president of the the N.C. Association of Local Health Directors, calling a move by her department “an unfortunate setback.” Cohen’s department had directed vaccine allocations to many N.C. counties to be either reduced or eliminated.
According to the state’s local health leaders, DHHS has previously encouraged local health departments to increase their vaccine delivery capabilities and told the locals that “if they vaccinated more they would receive more vaccine.”
“Because doses were diverted, grandmothers and grandfathers who had appointments in rural NC now wait,” said Saunders. “Health care workers who had appointments where they serve patients now wait.”
Other state leaders have questioned the rollout of the vaccine by the state health departments. Senate leader Phil Berger (R-Eden) called for a simpler vaccine plan based primarily on age. “It seems to me it shouldn’t be difficult to have a plan for how you adjust your distribution,” said Rep. Hugh Blackwell, R- Burke in mid-January. “It would be helpful to give some marching orders, even though they may not follow it, to some of the health departments so they have some sense of how to do this,” said state Sen. Gladys Robinson, D-Guilford. State health officials apparently provided those marching order but have since changed them.
North Carolina’s vaccine rollout plan started slow and after slight improvements still trailed most other U.S. states in terms of vaccinations per 100,000 people. This new shift in strategy will shift the state’s vaccination plan towards mass clinics rather than the individual hospitals and health departments.