UNC Health started administering COVID-19 vaccines to people 75 years of age and older under Phase 1B Monday. More health care providers in North Carolina are opening up vaccinations to those who qualify under Phase 1B.
Already, existing appointments at UNC Health are booked but a spokesperson said they plan to add more appointments as more vaccines come in.
"The problem is not so much our capacity to vaccinate," said UNC Health Infectious Disease Specialist Dr. David Wohl. "We have great capacity to vaccinate. The problem is we're outstripping the supply of the vaccine. So right now, the limiting factor, the reason that we have closed down to any new bookings right this moment is because we don't have adequate assurance that we will have vaccine available. And we don't want people showing up and telling them, 'Sorry we didn't get any allotment of vaccine.'"
Duke Health is also vaccinating people who qualify to get the vaccine under Phase 1B, or who are 75 years of age or older.
Raleigh resident Dorothy Krimm got her vaccine Monday from Duke Health.
"I'm 95 and I have cancer on my lung," Krimm said. "So I think that might have been why my primary was able to get me on the list. I feel blessed."
Krimm lives in independent living and said she is looking forward to having dinner with others when she's fully vaccinated.
"I realized that in five weeks I could eat my meal in the dining room with other people and it would be OK, that's a biggie because then you have your conversations," Krimm said.
Both Duke Health and UNC Health are opening up Phase 1B vaccinations to non-patients.
Dr. Wohl said they've seen high demand for the vaccine from those 75 and older.
"These older folks, they get it and we can learn a lesson from them," Dr. Wohl said. "They want us to get back to normal. They're the ones who haven't seen their grandchildren, who haven't been able to travel, can't do the things they want. They're the first ones to say, 'Give me the vaccine,' so I'm really heartened by that but I am frustrated that we're dealing with scarcity of vaccine when we've been told for months that there's hundreds of millions of vaccine that have already been pre-purchased. We need to distribute that vaccine more efficiently."
He said UNC Health is learning each week how many doses they'll get.
"Millions of doses of vaccine were apparently purchased," Dr. Wohl said. "We need to start seeing some of those millions come down here and have an assured supply. We don't want to book people for an appointment when we don't know that we're going to have vaccine available and we don't want to use up all the vaccine so that then we run out."
For more info on UNC Health vaccinations: YourShot.org.
Wake County will start vaccinating people who are 75 or older next Tuesday on Jan. 19. Wake County is expected to release information on how to make an appointment later this week. COVID-19 hotline - 919-250-1500 - and email address - email@example.com.
WakeMed is opening up vaccinations to people 75 and older. They're asking patients contact their primary care providers to ask about the availability of the vaccine. Some may have already gotten a message on their MyChart account.
If you're interested in getting a COVID-19 vaccine through Duke Health, you should sign up for a Duke MyChart account or you can the Duke COVID-19 hotline: 919-385-0429 to make an appointment. The hotline is open every day from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.