How many people have been vaccinated so far? A look at the numbers in North Carolina and the US

Michael Perchick Image
Tuesday, December 29, 2020
How many people have been vaccinated so far? A look at the numbers in NC and the US
The current numbers show we will likely fall short of projections made by federal leaders earlier this month.

Looking at COVID-19 vaccination numbers both in North Carolina and across the country, the current numbers show we will likely fall short of projections made by federal leaders earlier this month.

NCDHHS reported through Monday night that 63,571 first doses have been administered thus far, with a slight uptick in the second week.

The agency reports data can lag up to 72 hours after administration.

There have been 7,767 administered in Wake County, the most in the state. Mecklenburg County is second with 5,577 vaccinations, followed by Durham County with 5,450 vaccinations.

Combined, Wake, Durham, and Orange counties account for more than a quarter of all vaccinations in the state, in large part due to their respectively large medical communities, as the first phase of vaccinations were targeted at health-care providers.

"The vaccination is going very well. We have received more than 13,000 doses and we've administered as of this morning more than 7,800 doses. So we're really pleased where we are and the work that's been done," said Katie Galbraith, the President of Duke Regional Hospital. The numbers she shared referred to the entirety of the Duke University Health System.

Johnston County, which borders Wake County, has had just 1,125 vaccinations thus far, which is a lower rate than Wake County.

"I would love to see as many people getting vaccinated as would like to be vaccinated. I think there are some logistical issues, the rollout is not as rapid as I would like to see, but I'd like to see everybody vaccinated yesterday," said Dr. Rodney McCaskill, the Chief Medical Officer at Johnston Health.

Unlike the Pfizer vaccine, the Moderna vaccine does not have the extreme cold-chain requirements which make it difficult for transport and storage at smaller, rural communities. The hope is that with both vaccines now on the market, that distribution will ramp up.

"I think that having different vaccines available in both Moderna and Pfizer have been shown to be effective vaccines, both have received emergency use authorization from the FDA, and that just really helps enhance our ability to get folks vaccinated," said Galbraith.

According to the NCDHHS COVID-19 Vaccination Plan, there are an estimated 140,000-161,000 part of Phase 1A of the vaccination roll-out, which encompasses health-care workers, and 727,000 to 951,000 people part of Phase 1B, which includes staff and residents at long-term care settings and people with certain underlying conditions.

It will be a months-long process to distribute and administer both doses of the vaccine to that amount of people, as health care officials are stressing it is important to maintain safety protocols.

"I think the biggest misconception if there is one out there is that suddenly people will be vaccinated and suddenly they'll be back to normal. And I think that is an important misconception to clear up. We're going to have to wear our masks, because we want to protect everyone. So wearing those masks, washing the hands and certainly social distancing - that's still critical," said Galbraith.

As of Monday morning, the CDC reported that there were about 11.5 million COVID-19 vaccine doses distributed across the country and just over 2.1 million administered.

"We know that's underreported because there's a three to seven-day delay. But we expect that to ramp up," said Adm. Brett Giroir in an interview with MSNBC on Tuesday.

Even a furious rush over the next few days likely won't be enough to hit the 20 million number touted by Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Alex Azar earlier this month.

"We certainly are not at the numbers that we wanted to be at the end of December," Dr. Anthony Fauci said this week. "You heard talking about 40 million doses for 20 million people. I mean even if you undercount-- 2 million is an undercount-- how much undercount could it be. So we are below where we want to be."

Officials say they can stay on track to hit 50 million shipped by the end of January.

President-elect Joe Biden in a news conference on Tuesday criticized the Trump administration for the pace of distributing COVID-19 vaccines, saying it is "falling far behind."

Biden said "it's gonna take years, not months, to vaccinate the American people" at the current pace.

He vowed to ramp up the current speed of vaccinations five to six times to 1 million shots a day, but acknowledged it "will still take months to have the majority of Americans vaccinated."

The president-elect, who takes office Jan. 20, said he has directed his team to prepare a "much more aggressive effort to get things back on track."