Many North Carolina hospitals and local health departments will receive smaller or no new vaccine doses from the state this coming week, forcing hundreds of vaccination appointments to be canceled.
Instead, a “large portion” of the state’s 120,000 doses will go toward large-scale vaccination events, including events at Charlotte Motor Speedway and the Bank of America Stadium.
“We know this is causing pain among providers who did an incredible job working to vaccinate residents quickly,” said Chris Mackey, director of communications for NC DHHS. “As long as we are getting such a small amount of vaccine as a state, there are going to be challenges and shortages as we try to ensure equitable access to vaccine, while getting shots into arms quickly. We understand this is hard for providers who are doing everything right.”
Cone Health, a health and hospital system that serves many counties in the Triad, announced Friday that it had to cancel 10,400 vaccination appointments in the coming week.
“We are deeply disappointed that we are forced to delay these essential vaccinations,” said Cone Health CEO Terry Akin in a news release. “In order to maintain an aggressive vaccination strategy, we need predictability and regular vaccine shipments from the state as originally promised. I am very unhappy that the state appears to keep changing the rules for vaccination allocation.”
Several Western North Carolina hospitals are canceling hundreds of appointments because they aren’t getting their expected allocation from the state, said N.C Sen. Julie Mayfield.
The Western North Carolina delegation participated in a previously scheduled call with health administrators in the western part of the state.
“They have hundreds, collectively several thousand, people across the region lined up for appointments next week that they are now not going to be able to meet,” Mayfield said.
She and Guilford County Commissioner Chair Melvin “Skip” Alston said their area’s allocations were being redistributed to large-scale events in Charlotte.
“I think we are all frustrated at several things,” Mayfield said. “We are frustrated that there is not enough vaccine coming from the federal level. We are frustrated that this has been an ever-changing landscape in terms of who are the priority people and how vaccines are being allocated out in any given week.”
Many vaccine providers were asked by the state to “aggressively schedule appointments,” and to “rapidly administer vaccinations and exhaust North Carolina’s current supply,” Mackey said.
This was in response to the federal government, which indicated it “might base future allocations on the supply states have on hand,” he said.
A mass weekend clinic at the Charlotte Motor Speedway was expected to administer 16,000 shots and 20,000 to 30,000 people could be vaccinated at a future event at a clinic at Bank of America Stadium, The Charlotte Observer previously reported.
The events are joint efforts between Honeywell, Atrium Health and Tepper Sports & Entertainment. A phone call to Atrium Health was not returned Saturday.
“Given federal indications that future supply could be impacted by the amount of vaccine states have on hand, DHHS has worked to exhaust the supply of first doses in the state,” said Ford Porter, spokesperson for the governor. “The governor understands people’s frustration, especially those who lost appointments, but the reality is that there is not enough vaccine currently in the state for all eligible people and the state will continue to work to balance speed and equity of distribution.”
U.S. Rep. Kathy Manning, who represents Greensboro, tweeted she was aware of the vaccine shortage at Cone Health.
“I have reached out to the Governor’s office, Cone Health and Biden Administration for more information,” she said. “I share in the frustration felt by many people in our community and I will continue to monitor this situation closely.”
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