N.C. health officials share new plan to help health systems know how much vaccine to expect

Families frustrated by state's diverted vaccines

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - Thousands of people have had their vaccination appointments canceled after the state decided to divert doses of the COVID-19 vaccine out of many rural communities and deliver them to Charlotte instead.

Atrium Health is putting on several mass vaccinations clinics and needs a lot more doses, but not everyone can make the trip to Charlotte to get vaccinated.

Dr. Mandy Cohen with NCDHHS says this planning was done when there was a backlog of doses and the state needed to prove to the federal government that it could administer shots quickly.

Frustration over vaccine shipments in rural areas

On Tuesday she announced that 95% of first doses of the vaccine have been administered across the state of North Carolina, which will allow them to adjust the plan moving forward.

“It’s not fair that they’re taking away from the smaller counties,” Lara Preslar, who lives in Anson County, told WBTV.

Preslar is frustrated that her 74-year-old father has not been able to get the vaccine in Anson County, while tens of thousands get vaccinated at the Charlotte Motor Speedway and again this weekend at Bank of America Stadium.

“He filled out a form and he is waiting to be called,” Preslar said.

According to the Health Director, Anson County only got 100 first doses from the state, but they also got a transfer of 1,000 doses from Atrium Health last week.

Preslar is not the only one frustrated.

Sarah Price says her 77-year-old brother-in-law had his appointment in Guilford County put on pause.

“When you’re scheduled in your town by your major hospital and then for that hospital to be told we’re taking your vaccine and sending them to Mecklenburg County, that’s a little unnerving to me,” she said.

Several other county health departments did not get any first doses from the state this week.

Some of those counties include Alexander County, Gaston County, Stanly County, Lincoln County and Avery County.

“A large number of doses are committed to large scale events planned several weeks back when we were addressing that backlog with vaccines,” NCDHHS Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen said during a briefing Tuesday.

Dr. Cohen says changes are coming now that the backlog is cleared.

The state says it will start reserving 84,000 of the 120,000 doses for vaccine providers.

Providers will then be given a baseline of the amount of doses they can expect for the next three weeks.

Vaccines will be allocated based on county population and then divided among the county’s providers based on vaccine capacity.

The Remaining 36,000 doses will now go towards balancing vaccine distribution across the state, either geographically or demographically.

Preslar hopes it gives her father more of a chance to get the shot where he lives.

“It would be more so for myself nervous about him driving an hour away,” Preslar said.

While Price will get her first dose this weekend in Charlotte, she says she feels bad doing so, knowing her brother-in-law won’t be because of where he lives.

“He has some pulmonary issues. To know people in that age bracket have been diverted or delayed in receiving their vaccine is upsetting,” she said.

Disparities also exist between healthcare systems.

Novant Health was allocated 5,075 first doses this week, while Atrium Health was allocated 35,225 doses.

Novant Health is planning to open mass vaccination sites as well, but the system needs more supply to scale up operations.

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