RALEIGH, N.C. — As North Carolina moves closer to exhausting its supply of the first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services launched a new tool to help residents determine when they will be eligible to receive a vaccine.
“Given the very limited supplies we currently have, there may be wait times, but every North Carolinian has a spot," NCDHHS Secretary Mandy K. Cohen said in a statement. "A spot for accurate information. A spot in line. A spot to take their shot."
The launch of the website correlates with the state's goal to vaccinate as many people as possible. As of Sunday night, 88% of all the first doses available to North Carolina have been administered, according to NCDHHS, which equates to over 260,000 doses.
As of Monday morning, the CDC ranked North Carolina No. 10 when it comes to how many vaccines have been administered and No. 29 in vaccines administered per 100,000 residents.
The state credits their higher rankings to the large-scale vaccination events, requesting that providers ramp up vaccine measures and working in providers to vaccinate typically underserved communities.
On Jan. 27, North Carolina will only have 120,000 doses left to allocate across the state. A majority of those does are designated to large-scale vaccination events already planned. Due to those doses already being spoken for, some smaller providers will not get as many vaccines as they anticipated, which may lead to them postponing vaccination appointments. NCDHHS plans to share more about those events on Tuesday "to ensure more transparency and certainty now that the state has largely exhausted the backlog of vaccine supply."
“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 [the] vaccine, while getting shots into arms quickly," Cohen stated. "We understand this is hard for providers who are doing everything right."
Since vaccine supply is limited, states designated vaccination groups in order to protect those most vulnerable to infection. North Carolina is currently vaccinating people in Groups 1 and 2, which includes people 65 years and older, health care workers and long-term care staff and residents. 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 else. These groups are outlined in English and in Spanish online.
As the country waits to get vaccinated, it's important that everyone continues to wear a mask, maintain at least 6 feet from the nearest person and washes their hands often.
North Carolina is still seeing a high rates of cases, hospitalizations and positive tests. A recent health directive suggested people stay home and only leave for essential purposes such as grocery shopping, going to the doctor and going to school or work.