COVID-19 vaccine supply could soon exceed demand, Gov. Cooper says

Coronavirus

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — As the state prepares to make all adults eligible to sign up for COVID-19 vaccinations Wednesday, Gov. Roy Cooper (D) said he thinks there will soon be more doses available than people who want them.

“I think we’re pretty quickly going to reach the point where supply will exceed demand,” he said Tuesday. “And, we’re all going to have to flip it over to make sure we are encouraging people to get vaccinated.”

About one-quarter of the state’s adult population is fully vaccinated, according to the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services.

Meanwhile, 38.4 percent of adults are at least partially vaccinated.

The state is seeing an increasing supply of vaccine doses, with about an allocation this week of about 602,990 doses, according to DHHS.

That’s up from 547,000 last week and 464,390 two weeks ago.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced Tuesday that North Carolina will receive nearly $95 million to improve access to vaccines and to address vaccine hesitancy.

Of that money, 75 percent “must focus on specific programs and initiatives intended to increase vaccine access, acceptance, and uptake among racial and ethnic minority communities,” the CDC noted in a news release.

The agency also noted 60 percent has to go to county health departments, community-based organizations and community health centers.

Scot McCray, incoming CEO of Advance Community Health, said his organization has been working for months to try to address both of those issues.

This Friday, they’ll launch a new mobile initiative, bringing vaccine doses to underserved and hard-hit communities. That’ll begin with an appointment-only event at the Southeast Raleigh YMCA, where they’ll administer 200 vaccine doses.

“This is the first step toward better healthcare, getting vaccinated, putting the wheels back on,” he said.

Advance has administered 5,872 doses so far.

Of people fully vaccinated through their efforts, half are Black and 19 percent are from the 27610 ZIP code in Raleigh, which has been especially hard hit during the pandemic.

McCray said his team has been working to address vaccine hesitancy, aiming to give people “an abundance of information.”

“We always balance that conversation around trust, gaining the right traction with that community and meeting them where they are,” he said. “Not to look at this as to where we’re trying to check a box for a number. We’re trying to gain the trust of individuals.”

Vaccine passports

Cooper also addressed the issue of vaccine passports, as Republican governors of neighboring states have spoken out against them in recent days.

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp and Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee both tweeted about the issue Tuesday.

Kemp said he opposes any kind of “state-mandated vaccine passport.”

Lee said he opposes the idea as well is supporting legislation to prohibit them, calling the choice to be vaccinated a “voluntary, personal decision.”

Supporters of the concept say it would make it easier for people who are vaccinated to travel and do other activities while being able to show their vaccination status.

When asked about the issue, Cooper said he and state health officials want people to have a way to be able to request proof of their vaccination status if they need it. He did not say anything about the state mandating passports.

“Anybody who wants to get a record of their vaccine should be able to get that record,” said Cooper. “Obviously, you need to be careful with civil liberties and privacy, but we think that ought to be available to anybody who asks for it.”

The state is already tracking people’s vaccination status, noted Health and Human Services Sec. Dr. Mandy Cohen, pointing out that’s happening to ensure people who sign up for one of the two-dose vaccines are showing up to get the second dose.

“So, we’re looking at different IT solutions to make that easy as possible for folks. We know there are few states that have already done that. So, we’re looking at a number of vendor partners that we can work with in the next couple of weeks,” said Cohen.

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