Healthcare providers who have seen their coronavirus vaccine supply significantly cut or temporarily halted due to the state’s sudden shift favoring mass vaccination clinics will soon receive more doses, North Carolina’s top public health official said Tuesday. (Click on the video player for more coronavirus headlines from WXII 12 News) “This week will feel particularly tight, with many providers receiving little or no awards,” Mandy Cohen, secretary of state health ministry, told a news conference. “But we know that our providers need as much stability as we can give them in a very unstable environment.”
Health care providers who have seen their coronavirus vaccine supply significantly reduced or temporarily halted due to the state’s sudden shift favoring mass vaccination clinics will soon receive more doses, North Carolina’s top public health official said Tuesday.
(Click on the video player for more coronavirus headlines from WXII 12 News)
“This week is going to feel particularly tight, with many providers receiving little or no awards,” Mandy Cohen, secretary of the state Department of Health and Human Services, said at a news conference. “But we know our providers need as much stability as we can provide them in a very unstable environment.”
As part of the department’s plan, the state guarantees 84,000 new first doses of vaccines to counties each week based on population for the next three weeks. The remaining 36,000 weekly doses will be used to balance distributions to counties and improve access to racial and ethnic minorities.
Cohen and the Democratic government Roy Cooper have pinned the recent vaccine instability on the federal government. Local officials, in turn, have criticized the state for creating a distribution system that they believe is constantly changing, poorly communicated and unequal.
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President Joe Biden’s administration is raising the minimum weekly supply to states over the next three weeks from 8.6 million to 10 million, or by 16%. Cohen said Tuesday afternoon that it is not yet clear what North Carolina’s new supply figures will be. But with almost all supplies depleted and more mass vaccination events imminent, thousands of North Carolinas with postponed appointments could see further delays.
Jesse Williams, 81, of Reidsville had an appointment with Cone Health scheduled for Thursday at the Greensboro Coliseum. But the provider announced late last week that it would push back 10,400 deals after the state unexpectedly diverted supplies elsewhere.
Williams, who maintains an active lifestyle and longs to play golf and attend worship services in person, said his grandson had planned the appointment on his behalf nearly three weeks ago.
“It was just a little discouraging when I heard on the news that this had happened,” Williams said Tuesday. “I’m not sorry. It’s more that I’m disappointed.”
Williams and thousands of others have not been told when they can be vaccinated, prompting some to seek help elsewhere.
Pete Glidewell, a 74-year-old real estate agent from Elon, also had an appointment scheduled for Thursday at the Colosseum. He now plans to drive 90 minutes to get his vaccine in Dobson, a small town in Surry County.
Cohen said residents in different counties and states are free to travel for their vaccines. She acknowledged on Tuesday that the redistribution of vaccines against large facilities, such as Charlotte Motor Speedway and the Bank of America Stadium, was designed to address concerns that the state could see its distribution reduced if it did not speed up the administration of the vaccine.
“We wanted to demonstrate to the federal government that we are ready to take more vaccine, and we want the vaccine here,” Cohen said. “We changed our posture to a speed.”
At the Bank of America Stadium, where the Carolina Panthers play, as many as 30,000 people could be vaccinated over the weekend, according to Charlotte-based Honeywell International, which has partnered with Panthers owner David Tepper and Atrium Health to host the clinic. These vaccinations alone correspond to a quarter of the state’s current weekly allocation of 120,000 doses. Meanwhile, Williams and others are back and waiting.
“Everyone should be treated equally. I agree with that,” Williams said. “But these agreements were created with the certainty that Cone Health and many of the others would receive what they were designated to receive. I do not want us to be more important than they (residents of the Charlotte area), or they are more important than we are. It’s just a frustration that we expected to get our shots and be a little more resilient to COVID-19. “