January 15, 2020

Dear Friends,
I am sending some updates (as of this morning) on plans for the delivery of our much-needed COVID-19 vaccinations. The winter has brought on an alarming spread of the coronavirus throughout our state, making it even more critical that we all follow health safety protocols and that efforts are accelerated to get free vaccinations to everyone as soon as practicable. 

As you know, we have been operating with a phased approach to vaccination distribution, beginning with those at the highest risk and those on the frontline of fighting the virus. Yesterday, the NC Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) announced that vaccine providers may vaccinate all health care workers and anyone 65 years and older. While providing the opportunity to more of us, this will dramatically increase the demand on information and vaccine delivery systems that have been created. So NCDHHS and all counties, including Wake County, are pushing to make adjustments to those systems, and we are providing you with what I hope will be useful information to assist you or members of your family in signing up, especially if you fall into this expanded category. We are advised that the systems are likely to be overloaded as these adjustments are implemented, so please be patient and continue to check back with the various vaccination portals as more doses are received, more appointments are available, and more vaccination sites are opened. However, it has just been reported by the Washington Post that the federal vaccine reserve has in fact been exhausted; and we are checking with NCDHHS to confirm the impact to our state.

We are advised that the systems are likely to be overloaded as these adjustments are implemented, so please be patient and continue to check back with the various vaccination portals as more vaccines are received, more appointments are available, and more vaccination sites are opened.

As we receive additional information, we will be sending out updates in the coming days and weeks. I hope we all will remember -- until the majority of our population is vaccinated, we are advised to continue to practice the 3W's -- Wait 6 feet and avoid large crowds, Wash hands frequently, and Wear a face covering. Medical experts also advise that even after a person is vaccinated, they should continue to practice these health safety guidelines, as additional measures of protection.
What Are the Challenges?
Planning the vaccine rollout has been a challenge for our state and counties because they find out the number of doses they’ll get only one week at a time. In addition, a survey by the NC Watchdog Reporting Network, NC county health departments revealed:

  • The public health workforce in many counties is stretched thin.
  • Social distancing guidelines and facility size limit how many patients health care workers can see at a time.
  • A new vaccine management system launched by the state has made record-keeping more complex.

In Wake County, there are five licensed vaccine providers: four hospitals (WakeMed, UNC, Duke Raleigh, UNC Wakebrook) and the Wake County Public Health Department (WCPH). Each has the capacity to vaccinate as supply increases. To illustrate the challenges, WCPH currently has the capacity to administer approximately 5,000 vaccines/week, and will add new sites over time. Yet, WCPH is currently receiving
only 975 - 1,950 vaccines a week from NCDHHS; additional doses have been requested to fill their capacity and increase access to the vaccine. The federal government dictates the supply received by our state and then NCDHHS allocates the supply to the licensed providers. Efforts are underway to push for more supply for our state, so more can be allocated to current providers and more vaccination sites opened.

Where Do You Fit in the Plan?
There are five phases to the plan. You can find additional details about who is covered in each group on the NC DHHS vaccine webpage. Please learn where your spot is in the plan so you can be ready to sign up when it’s your turn!
Step Up and Sign Up: How to Get Your Vaccine
YourSpotYourShot.nc.gov provides comprehensive, up-to-date material on the vaccine plan. It allows you to search for vaccine providers in and beyond Wake County, with direct links to each provider’s website and phone number.

For all Wake County sites, appointments are required. No walk-ups are permitted.

Hospitals


Wake County Public Health Department
 
According to a press release from Wake County issued at noon today, starting Tuesday, Jan. 19, at 8:30 am, Wake County residents ages 65 and older and healthcare workers can get on the Wake County Public Health Department waiting list. Eligible residents can call a special phone line – (919)-250-1515 or visit wakegov.com/vaccine to sign up. Once WCPH receives enough doses from the state, interested seniors and healthcare providers will receive a message via phone, email or text, asking them to schedule a vaccination appointment. "This is not a first come, first served process,” said Wake County Pharmacy Director Dr. Jason Wittes. “We determine the order of appointments based on risk and need, so people don’t have to worry about being the first person to call our phone line or visit our online tool at precisely 8:30 a.m. Tuesday.” Visit the Wake County website for general COVID-19 information.

As you can imagine, appointments go fast—but be persistent…and patient. Please continue to check back as new vaccine shipments are received. Each vaccine provider is working diligently to vaccinate community members as quickly as possible according to the plan and based on supplies.
Please Stay Safe and Well
As always, you can reach out with your questions via email to me at Cynthia.Ball@ncleg.gov and I will get back to you with information as it becomes available. I hope you are remaining safe and well as we continue to deal with many challenges. 

Thinking about you and your family,
As always, please do not hesitate to reach out to me or the
District 49 Legislative Assistant, Patty Williams, with your questions or concerns.
It is my privilege to serve the people of North Carolina!
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