Why COVID-19 vaccine clinics in NC operate differently depending on where you live

Coronavirus

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — Waiting by foot and car, senior citizens lined up across central North Carolina for COVID-19 vaccines this week.

“They’ve been such an enthusiastic crowd and they’re very grateful,” said Dr. Sam Fleishman, chief medical officer at Cape Fear Valley Health.

Dr. Fleishman says they vaccinated around 1,500 people 75 and older this week at Cape Fear Valley Health.

They’ve started with a policy of first come first serve, aiming to vaccinate 300 people a day.

“Every day we’ve learned a little bit more about how we’re going about doing it, and it’s getting better all the time,” said Dr. Fleishman.

He said they’ve worked on traffic control and are looking to register people for time slots in the future.

“To help that kind of flow would be tremendous, if we could be even more efficient and get more people through the system,” said Dr. Fleishman.

Nash County Health Officials vaccinated about 1,000 people at their first clinic.

The first clinic was an all-day first come first serve event. Many waited upwards of eight hours.

That led the health department to want to move to appointments only, like several other counties and health systems are doing.

“I think everybody’s kind of doing their own thing in some respects,” said Dr. Fleishman.

That’s because the state hasn’t offered guidance on how to vaccinate people. Most places are doing it based on how they’ve done past clinics, like flu shots.

They’re also doing trial by error.

“I think people are looking for perhaps some way share some best practices, there really hasn’t been a process around that,” said Dr. Fleishman.

North Carolina health officials say they can provide staff to help if needed, whether that be for office work, data entry, or administering vaccines.

“They just need to raise their hand and ask and we have the ability to mobilize staff to various counties depending on what they need.” said Dr. Mandy Cohen with the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services. “Folks just need to raise their hand, use the same process we use if we’re in a hurricane to use that request process.”

The move comes as health workers try to vaccinate as many people as possible, as quickly as possible.

“So the second half of 2021 is a great year for everyone,” said Dr. Fleishman.

CBS 17 asked the state if they’re considering creating a platform for health systems and counties to share their best practices with each other.

This is the response CBS 17 received from state officials:

“The current Interim Provider Guidance for Vaccinating North Carolinians has been shared with vaccine providers and is available online. We have also shared training on the COVID-19 Vaccine Management System. NCDHHS, providers and local health departments continue to communicate with each other to share information and ensure that vaccine rollout and administration goes as smoothly as possible.”

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