North Carolina sees new high of vaccine supply, as Group 5 set to begin next Wednesday

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (WTVD) -- North Carolina received its biggest allotment of vaccine doses this week, as the state continues to expand eligibility.

Wednesday, all of Group 4 became eligible for the vaccine, and next Wednesday, everybody in North Carolina 16 years and older will be able to get their shots.

"The situation at the Friday Center has been optimal. We are seeing a high allotment of vaccine. We are seeing our appointments being consistently filled," said Sarah Tatko, the Lead Physician Assistant at the Friday Center at UNC Health.

The Friday Center operates by appointment-only.

"We're consistently administering between 1,500 - 1,800 vaccines every day, Monday thru Saturday. So this is a really exciting time for us because there's just a great energy in the building, we can feel that people are excited to get their vaccine. Expanded eligibility is a great thing," said Tatko.

The state received 547,000 vaccines this week, marking the fourth straight week of increases and the first time they topped 500,000 vaccines in a week. Of that amount, they received 58,800 single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccines; the state received just 23,000 combined doses in the prior three weeks.

Next week, Wake County will see a new county-wide high.

"All of Wake County, all the providers in Wake County, are going to receive 41, 680 doses, and that's going to be across 63 vaccine providers. And Wake County Public Health will receive 20, 660 of those doses," said Ryan Jury, Wake County Public Health's Vaccine Branch Director.

Jury said they've seen a steady level of 2 - 3,000 daily sign-ups.

"We've been watching some of the smaller counties to kind of see what happens and see how we can put those into our models to figure out what a forecast might look like. So we have some assumptions, but we don't really feel confident right now that we have enough to say this is what it's going to look like," Jury said, when asked about expectations that the number of sign-ups would increase once Group 5 becomes eligible.

Dr. Jennifer Burch, owner of Central Pharmacy in Durham, added they've seen increased sign-ups to their waitlist as eligibility expanded. Recently they switched from the state to federal allotment, greatly increasing the number of doses they receive each week.

"We went from getting 100 Moderna, which would really be about 120 when you add up their extra doses, to getting 400 Pfizer, and this week we were fortunate and got 400 J and J doses as well," said Dr. Burch.

She said they provide 48-70 vaccinations daily, though plan to increase that amount beginning next week.

"We constantly look at the weather and try to figure out can we do this event outside? Can we use some of our parking lot space? And do we have adequate staff to make sure we can vaccinate people and monitor them like we're supposed to," said Dr. Burch.

However, not all counties are seeing a rush of sign-ups. This afternoon, Randolph County Public Health wrote they have "many appointments open for the COVID-19 vaccine. The call volume on our appointment line has drastically slowed this week."

Through Wednesday, 23.5% of North Carolinians are fully vaccinated, and an additional 13% are partially vaccinated, meaning they've received one dose of a two-shot vaccine.
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