Q&A with a North Carolina doctor: When will the general public be able to get the vaccine?

DURHAM, N.C. (WTVD) -- Three weeks into the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine in North Carolina, there are several healthcare facilities still waiting to be vaccinated. This comes as several Duke University Hospital employees received their second dose of the Pfizer vaccine.

The vaccine is designed to be given 21 days apart.

"We've given over 40,000 COVID tests in our practices and we haven't gotten our vaccines yet. And we're face-to-face all the time," said Dr. Joanne Fruth, chief medical officer for Avance Primary Care. "I think right now the main thing is to be patient...take all the precautions you can."

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Dr. Fruth's comments come as many have been wondering and received mixed messaging about their vaccination eligibility and details surrounding when and where they can get vaccination.

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"Where does one go to get the COVID vaccine?" one viewer asked in an email to ABC11. "I can find lots of information about the phases, but nothing about where to go to get the vaccine."

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Three weeks into the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine in North Carolina, there are several healthcare facilities still waiting to be vaccinated.



Another email from a viewer in Sampson County wrote, "My wife and I are both over 75 years of age...how will we know when and where to go to receive the COVID vaccine. We both want to receive the vaccine!"

Fruth says the answer is -- be patient.

"We want you to be patient," she said. "My own staff hasn't gotten our vaccinations. We've done over 40,000 COVID tests in our Avance practices. And we haven't gotten our vaccines yet. And we're face-to-face with COVID positive patients all the time. So we just ask the general public at this point, take all the precautions that you can, but be patient."

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She said the state has yet to inform the public on when they will get the vaccine because the federal government has yet to give specifics of the next phase of distribution.

Right now, the state is in Phase 1a. North Carolina's vaccination plan says that the state can move into Phase 2 when more vaccine is available.

The federal government touted 20 million vaccinations would be given by the end of 2020. However, the United States is far shy of that number -- at about 4.5 million as of Monday. The CDC reports that number could be an undercount due to a 72 hour possible delay in reporting. Still, not even 20 million doses have been distributed.

"The 20 million doses by the end of 2020 was just an aspirational goal," said Dr. Fruth.

Dr. Anthony Fauci also acknowledged the U.S. fell short of its goal.

"There have been a couple of glitches. That's understandable," Fauci said. "We are not where we want to be, there's no doubt about that."

Dr. Fruth expects her staff to receive the vaccine in as little as a week and a half.

Wayne County announced on Monday that individuals who are age 75 or older will be able to register to receive a COVID-19 vaccine free from the Wayne County Health Department under Phase 1b of vaccination distribution starting this week. Cumberland County also announced Monday that Phase 1b is expected to begin Jan. 11.

An NCDHHS spokesperson told ABC11 on Monday that some vaccine providers will begin Phase 1b on Jan. 6 but most will begin on Jan. 11.
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