Why Wake Health Department remains on Phase 1A of COVID-19 vaccine rollout as other counties move on to next stage

WAKE COUNTY, N.C. (WTVD) -- As some counties in our region turn a page to Phase 1B and start vaccinating senior citizens over the age of 75, one of the most populated counties is still trying to complete the first phase.

Eyewitness News spoke to the Wake County Department of Public Health to learn why its taking longer than places like Nash County, which saw long lines for senior citizens on Thursday, and Orange and Cumberland County, who are both set to begin Phase 1B.

Ryan Jury, a COVID-19 clinical liaison for the Wake County health department, says it comes down to population size.

"The real reality is this is that, you know, we have great health care systems, and we have lots of people who met the criteria for Phase 1A," Jury said.

Stanley Jay, an 82-year-old Garner resident, tells Eyewitness News that he's looking to be first in line when the vaccine is made available for him in the next phase. "Why do I want to get this vaccine as soon as possible? So, so, I don't die, haha."

He, along with other viewers who have emailed us questions, have shared concerns about having to wait longer. Wake County officials understand that people are becoming antsy and say they're working to move to the next stage.

According to the WCDPH, they've received nearly 4,000 doses. So far, they've administered nearly half of that with 3,800 invitations to health care workers still pending.

"I think there's some, you know, a situation where people were interested but just haven't gotten to it. Maybe there is some vaccine hesitancy, and these are all things that we normally see in vaccine programs," Jury said.

Durham County, another heavily populated area, is also still in the first phase. A spokesperson tells ABC 11 that they won't start vaccinating senior citizens over the age of 75 until possibly next week.

Jury says, once they hurdle past Phase 1A, they'll have the difficult task of rolling out doses to more than 51,000 residents who are 75 years of age or older.

"The general public over the age of 75, logistically, is a little bit more challenging. And so, I think we just want to make sure that the offering that we're offering to the community is safe and effective," Jury said.

Right now, Wake County is testing out an online signup system that residents can use and are finalizing a plan.
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