By Michelle Wagner | Outer Banks Voice on January 14, 2021
During a Jan. 14 briefing, North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Mandy Cohen confirmed that in keeping with federal guidance, the state has given its COVID-19 vaccine providers the green light to begin vaccinating North Carolinians who are 65 years and older in addition to all healthcare workers.
At the same time, she cautioned that a limited supply of the vaccines currently being allocated to the state, as well as the speed in which some providers are able to get those vaccines into people’s arms, could mean that it will take some time for that population to get inoculated.
“If you are 65 and older or you are a healthcare worker, it’s your time…however remember that not every place has additional appointments right now,” said Cohen. “We have less vaccine in our state than the number of people who are eligible to get it at this moment. For those who are 65 years and older, you could get vaccine starting now, but that doesn’t mean vaccine is available for you today or an appointment is available for you today.”
Cohen recommended those 65 and older who wish to get vaccinated visit the NCDHHS website, yourspotyourshot.nc.gov where they can find a list of vaccine providers by county.
Under the state’s new simplified vaccination priority list, the next group to be vaccinated would be frontline essential workers such as teachers, law enforcement officers, childcare workers and others. Following that group, providers will move onto vaccinating adults at a high risk for exposure and an increased risk of severe illness. The final phase would be the remainder of the population.
Emphasizing the need for simplicity, speed and equity, Cohen also announced during the briefing that the state has increased the number of large community vaccination events it will be holding by expanding from 10 counties to 23. The events are being held to speed up the slow rollout of the vaccinations in the state and could result in an additional 45,000 North Carolinians being inoculated.
In addition, North Carolina Emergency Management Director Michael Sprayberry said that by the end of next week, more than 250 National Guard personnel will be offering support to vaccination providers across the state.
Cohen added the state is asking for specific plans of local providers as to how the vaccines allotted to them will be administered within seven days, adding that local providers are given some flexibility. “Yes, we have a prioritization that we want folks to follow, but at the end of the day, we don’t want vaccine to go to waste at all. They know that these vaccines are lifesaving and want every single one to be used,” she said.
Despite the efforts statewide, Cohen noted at the close of the briefing that COVID-19 cases are at a high level in the state, and even if every vaccine available in the state was administered today, only about six percent of the entire population in North Carolina would be vaccinated. “Please do stay home and only go out for essential business,” she said. “Remember, there is a lot of virus here in the state. Please protect yourselves, your family and your communities.”
Note: Every morning, the NC Department of Health and Human Services posts updates the number of reported cases of coronavirus. That number reflects positive results from all tests, including the NC State Laboratory of Public Health and all hospital and commercial labs. There may be other reports, from the media and elsewhere, that will include different numbers during a given day, but this is an effective way of tracking numbers from the same source on a day-to-day basis.
SOURCE: NC DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH