FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. (WNCN) — As some areas are struggling with operating COVID-19 vaccine clinics, Cumberland County reports a success story this week.
The county says wait times are down, and they’re looking ahead to fine tune the process as additional age groups are added to the vaccine list.
Gene Booth, Cumberland County Emergency Management director, says they’re treating the vaccination program as they would a disaster response, which means bringing in all available resources and being proactive about asking for volunteers.
“We’ve come up with ways we can try to make it better,” Booth said. “Some things you test and they don’t work, you throw it out the door and you go with something else.”
The COVID-19 vaccine clinic at the Crown Expo Center starts with appointments in the morning, then transitions to walk-ins as supplies last from 1 to 4 p.m.
On Friday, 1,357 people were vaccinated, with most waiting less than an hour or two, Booth said.
Officials keep track of how many people are in line, so they immediately know when they’ve reached their capacity for the day and can relay that to the public.
Booth says people in other areas are turning to them for advice.
“Each county each department should work with their emergency management agency to help them with those resources,” Booth said. “Work with as many partners as you can…if you see you have a gap, try to find someone with that quality that can help you fill that gap.”
Nursing students from Fayetteville Technical Community College and Fayetteville State University are volunteering to help vaccinate people.
“This was a great opportunity for us to get hands on experience, as well as to give back to the community,” FTCC nursing student Jerica Hartford said. “I’m excited…I’m going to do it as long as it lasts.”
“It’s really incredible to see a large-scale operation run so smoothly,” FTCC nursing student volunteer Tyler Romero said. “As future nurses, this is a great opportunity in a real world setting to apply some of our skills.”
Members of the North Carolina National Guard are also helping, as well as veterans with Team Rubicon – a non-profit with experience responding to natural disasters.
“It takes a village to operate this, so everybody has to be on board,” Booth said. “Everybody has their piece of the puzzle – they focus on that and it all comes together in one smooth action.”
Booth says they have meetings every morning to plan for the day, go over any potential problems, and talk about ways they can prepare for the next group of people to get vaccinated.
The next clinic is Saturday starting at 9 .a.m. However, officials warned that so many people were vaccinated Friday that the Saturday clinic could be cut short by lack of vaccines.
The health department will receive 975 first doses of the Pfizer vaccine next week.