Durham, North Carolina – With the new daily cases of COVID-19 in North Carolina, close to record highs, the process of introducing vaccines is becoming increasingly urgent.
But the promise of vaccines is moving more slowly in some countries than in others.
While some counties have begun vaccinating people over the age of 75, Durham is still in phase 1A, vaccinating health workers and those in long-term care facilities. Only one third of the vaccines are given.
Durham County received 3,200 doses of the Moderna vaccine, and by Friday afternoon they had injected 810. About 16% had been transferred to other medical facilities.
This means that about 59% are still on the shelves.
By comparison, Wake County has administered 2,479 of 3,900 doses and is preparing to enter phase 1B next week. However, Wake County is moving slower than other surrounding counties.
The director of the Durham County Department of Health has not yet given an interview; however, part of the reason for Durham’s slower pace seems to be their more measured, methodical approach.
At the last meeting of the working group for rehabilitation and renewal, health director Rod Jenkins said that many factors play a role in the current pace of the vaccination process.
“We are taking the time to make sure we are able to move on to the next stage in a very safe and effective way,” Jenkins said.
Jenkins said each individual vaccination takes time and care – including screening, maintaining a place for social distancing, and monitoring each vaccinated person for safe time before sending him home.
“I’ve seen news reports from other counties where our loved ones wait in long lines, get up at 4 a.m. and wait for hours to get the vaccine because of the high demand,” he said.
“We do not want to accidentally take care of our most vulnerable citizens. We want to make sure we do it the right way,” he said.
Jenkins called the pace a balancing act between planning, screening, documentation, and process operations – one of the biggest concerns is not losing vaccines.
The health department has received doses of the Pfizer vaccine and will start using them this week.
There are still no deadlines for when Phase 1B will begin in Durham; however, a planned media roundtable scheduled for Tuesday morning could provide more answers.
Although the county health department has not started phase 1B, Duke Health has begun hosting appointments.
If you need more information on how to get the COVID vaccine in your county, WRAL has created a county-by-county reference guide.