RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – Starting next week, Wake County residents 75 years and older will have access to the COVID-19 vaccine.

However, county leaders caution it will take weeks to vaccinate this group unless the health department is allocated significantly more doses of the vaccine.

“It might take an extra week or two or longer from what we all want, from when we want to be vaccinated, but we’ll get there. I ask your patience. Give us time to make sure it gets done properly,” said Dr. Jason Wittes, Wake County’s pharmacy director.

There are 53,000 people in Wake County eligible to be vaccinated in Phase 1b Group 1.

Wittes said Wake County won’t know until the end of this week exactly how much vaccine will be allocated to them by NCDHHS, but said they were allocated 1,950 doses this week.

“If we only get 2,000 a week and every other location gets 2,000 a week, there are five places in Wake County that are vaccine providers, that’s only 10,000. It might take four or five weeks to get through that whole population,” Wittes said.

At that pace, Wittes said they will vaccinate 450 to 500 people each day. However, if the health department is allocated more vaccine doses, they plan to scale up efforts and add a second location to vaccinate up to 1,000 people each day.

Wake County has also partnered with WakeMed and other hospitals. If the hospitals have extra vaccine, the county will send people registered to be vaccinated to the hospital

“If WakeMed pings us and says, ‘Hey Jason, we have 2,000 spots for 1b1. We need 2,000 people,’ we have the ability to send them 2,000 people’s names onto the hospital system to schedule their appointment,” Wittes said.

The vaccination program will begin Jan. 19 at the Sunnybrook Building.

Next week, people 75 and older can reserve a spot online. Then they will receive a notification from the county when it’s their turn to get vaccinated.

Wittes said administering the vaccine this way ensures there are enough doses for people signed up that day, and that this vulnerable population doesn’t wait for hours in line.