CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - Healthcare workers and those 65 and older will now be able to make COVID-19 vaccination appointments in Mecklenburg County.
Last week Mecklenburg County Public Health announced that it will be opening additional appointments for the first three weeks of February for Groups 1 and 2 based on anticipated vaccine supply.
“We are planning on making about 1,500 appointments each week, with the hopes that if vaccines become more available we can open up more appointments,” Mecklenburg County Medical Director Dr. Meg Sullivan said.
Those eligible were able to make appointments at 8:30 a.m. Thursday, Jan. 21.
High volume of people online and calling the hotline meant delays for many people trying to secure a slot.
“There are a lot of technology hurdles in getting vaccine appointments,” Lenny Walker- Tran told WBTV.
Walker- Tran was on a mission to get appointments for his co-worker and aunt who are both over 65 years old.
“The website timed out a lot because people were trying to get appointments at the same time,” he said.
Officials with Mecklenburg County asked people for patience.
“I probably had to try at least 100 times or more,” he said. “Refreshing the page, logging off, logging in.”
For Lenny, it paid off.
“I heard her hootin and hollering on the other end!” he said, when he called his co-worker to tell her he signed her up. “Before we hung up and she didn’t know I was still listening in, so it was a great relief!”
According to the website, appointments are booked up through early March, with no others being offered at this time.
Mecklenburg County resident Tim McLeod says he called Atrium Health instead.
“I was told the earliest possible would be April 30th,” McLeod told WBTV. “I said you’ve got to be kidding me! I said I’ll be dead by then!”
Vaccine supply is low which is why Dr. Mandy Cohen with NCDHHS recommends you get the shot wherever you can.
“You don’t have to be confined to your counties,” she said. “Counties must serve all jurisdictions. These vaccines are paid by the federal government they aren’t limited to that one location or county.”
Once they are able to open more slots, they will.
Right now Groups 1 and 2 are eligible in North Carolina.
Group 1 includes healthcare workers with current in-person patient contact and long-term care staff and residents.
Group 2 includes anyone 65 years or older, regardless of health status or living situation.
Once more appointments open, Eligible Group 1 and 2 members may make a first dose appointment online here. Phone appointments may be made by calling 980-314-9400 and selecting option 3. MCPH will attempt to return calls within 24-48 business hours.
The main county clinic is set up at Bojangles’ Coliseum off East Independence Boulevard in Charlotte, where vaccinations are taking place 6 days a week.
This comes after Atrium and Novant Health expanded appointments to anyone age 65 and older last week.
According to Novant Health as of Tuesday appointments were fully booked.
Dr. David Priest with Novant Health says they hope to continue to expand options as they get more vaccine allotment.
“The federal government is giving more to the states that are using the doses and the states are gonna give more to organizations that are using their doses,” he said. “So the message we’re getting from the state of North Carolina is vaccinate quickly.”
Novant Health is planning to create six mass vaccination sites across the state, but they say it won’t be possible without 95,000 doses from the state each week.
Dr. Priest said this week they have just 5,325 first doses and 2,925 doses.
Meanwhile Atrium Health is announcing a milestone of 100,000 vaccination appointments made so far.
The health system is also starting mass vaccinations through their public-private partnership at the Charlotte Motor Speedway on Friday.
“Our hospital systems have more resources than the health department so we will encourage them any way we can to get vaccine out into the community,” Mecklenburg Public Health Director Gibbie Harris said.
Instructions for the second dose will be provided after the first dose.
Following some confusion about the availability timeline, Mecklenburg County Health Public Health Director Gibbie Harris hosted a virtual Q&A session.
Mecklenburg County officials say during appointments, they will verify that residents have an appointment and will be verifying residents’ name and date of birth. “But we do not require any specific form of ID,” county officials say.
No walk-ins will be accepted at this time.
For more information, click here.
Counties in the WBTV viewing area are continuing to announce plans for COVID-19 vaccination clinics.
North Carolina health officials say distribution will be broken down into phases and groups.
North Carolina is opening up COVID-19 vaccines to those 65 years and older, Gov. Roy Cooper announced.
Until the announcement, only those 75 years and older or those in Phase 1a were able to receive a COVID-19 vaccine.
“Providers can now vaccinate all healthcare workers and those 65 and older,” NCDHHS Secretary Mandy Cohen said.
A new vaccination structure provided by NCDHHS includes 5 groups:
- Anyone 16-64 years old with high-risk medical conditions that increase risk of severe disease from COVID-19 such as cancer, COPD, serious heart conditions, sickle cell disease, Type 2 diabetes, among others, regardless of living situation
- Anyone who is incarcerated or living in other close group living settings who is not already vaccinated due to age, medical condition or job function
- Essential workers not yet vaccinated. The CDC defines these as workers in transportation and logistics, water and wastewater, food service, shelter and housing (e.g., construction), finance (e.g., bank tellers), information technology and communications, energy, legal, media, public safety (e.g., engineers) and public health workers