The ABC11 data team looked into how much of the first dose of COVID-19 vaccine on hand the largest counties in our viewing area have actually administered.
These percentages are for those in Phase 1a, (which includes health care workers fighting COVID-19 and long-term care staff and residents) but don't include the doses for those living and working in long-term care facilities. These numbers from the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services were last updated Tuesday so the percentages are likely higher now.
Wake County: 47%
Durham County: 38%
Cumberland County: 35%
A Wake County spokesperson said they should now be closer to about 51 percent and that they are working to vaccinate the right people as quickly as possible. With Wake County's large population and the number of healthcare systems, this takes longer than in smaller counties, a spokesperson said.
Fayetteville Mayor Mitch Colvin got his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine Friday.
"Everything's feeling great," Colvin said. "The shot was not painful at all."
Mayor Colvin, a licensed funeral director, qualifies to get the vaccine under Phase 1a.
"Communities of color have been very distrustful of this," Colvin said. "I think it's more important that we let that community know that this is safe and it's something that we need to do as a community."
Some counties in North Carolina are already vaccinating people ages 75 and older, under Phase 1b.
Orange County started vaccinating people ages 75 and older and has registered more than 4,000 people in its online and phone system.
Duke Health has vaccinated nearly 1,000 people under Phase 1b, including nonpatients.
With vaccinations going slower nationally and in our state, some are calling on leaders to rethink prioritization.
But Dr. Dennis Taylor, of Wake Forest Baptist Health and President of the North Carolina Nurses Association said this can overwhelm resources if there's a big demand
"I think until we are assured that we have enough doses of the vaccine for everyone, there needs to continue to be some prioritization or triage for folks to receive the vaccine," he said.
Dr. Arthur Apolinario treats patients at Clinton Medical Clinic and is co-chair of the North Carolina Institute of Medicine's COVID-19 Vaccine Advisory Committee that gave feedback to the state about how to distribute the vaccine.
"I fully believe that the timing of transitioning to 1b occurring right now in my county has been very timely and reassuring that we can now start vaccinating our most vulnerable people in the population," Dr. Apolinario said. "We must ensure the right amount of vaccine is available to the people who need it most initially. North Carolina's current protocol is ensuring that that is the case."
To try to get more people vaccinated, President-elect Joe Biden's office said they won't hold back vaccine doses to guarantee second doses.
This is a change from the Trump administration.
"We'll be a willing supporter and participant on the local level," Colvin said. "It's good to hear some federal guidance. That's something that we've lacked with the previous administration is that each community was kind of stuck to come up with their own process."
Dr. Taylor said we need to make sure those who got the first dose of the vaccine have the opportunity to get the second one.
"I don't know what information the President-elect has, if he knows for sure that we're going to have enough vaccines that folks will be able to get that second booster shot, then I think that's perfectly fine," Dr. Taylor said. "However, if you have a limited number of those vaccines available, we know that there is a very narrow window of time that people need to take that need second shot for it to be 95 percent effective."
He said it's unclear how effective the second dose would be if people have to wait a long period of time to get it.
A Durham County spokesperson said they hope to move into Phase 1b in the next weeks but can't confirm a date for starting vaccinations in that phase yet.
Duke Health is now offering the vaccine to those 75 and older. You can sign up for a Duke MyChart account or call their hotline at 919-385-0429 between 8 am and 8pm to make an appointment.
Orange County residents can set up a vaccine interest form online and they'll get a link to register for an appointment or residents can call 919-913-8088.
A look at how much vaccine Wake, Durham and Cumberland counties have administered