DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) — Thousands of people in Group 4 in the Bull City are still waiting for COVID-19 vaccine appointments, and it could be weeks before some get appointments at the Durham County Department of Public Health.
Group 4 includes people ages 16-64 who have underlying health conditions such as asthma, high blood pressure, diabetes, cancer, and it also includes smokers.
When the Durham County Department of Public Health opened up the waitlist to Group 4 last week, the list went from 5,000 to 15,000 people.
Now, health officials in Durham County said there are between 15,000 and 30,000 people on their waitlist.
“We are in the early stages of group 4 for the most part,” said Rod Jenkins, director for the Durham County Department of Public Health.
Jenkins said they began vaccinating some in Group 4 last week but they expect to vaccinate many more this week.
Jenkins said that people in Group 4 can expect to wait anywhere from a week to a couple of weeks to get an appointment for a vaccine.
“There are a lot of people in Group 4,” Jenkins said. “It includes pretty much anyone who has smoked 100 cigarettes throughout their lifetime.”
Jenkins said the Durham County Department of Public Health has the capacity to vaccinate 6,400 people a week.
However, he said only about 1,500 to 1,600 are getting vaccinated per week through the Durham County Department of Public Health with the doses they are currently receiving from the state.
Jenkins said they will continue to ask for more doses.
“We continue to petition for event doses,” Jenkins said. “Event doses are those allocations that we’re able to partner with Duke Regional or local pharmacies to be able to administer more vaccines.”
Jenkins said they will continue to plan to hold more vaccination events with churches and other groups so they can vaccinate more people.
Jenkins said they expect to receive more Johnson & Johnson vaccine doses towards the end of the month.
Until then he said it could be weeks before they move on to Group 5.
“Patience is needed, because we don’t control the vaccine flow, that’s on the state,” Jenkins said.
CBS 17 reached out to the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services to find out why Durham County is not receiving more vaccines. We also inquired about what the latest is on the mass vaccination event that was expected to come to Durham last month.
We are still waiting to hear back.
While the Durham County Department of Public Health is working through thousands of people on their waitlist, some people are only waiting a couple of days for appointments at local pharmacies.
Laura James and her husband, Phil, were able to get in to get their vaccines at Southpoint Pharmacy after waiting just a couple of days.
The pharmacist at Southpoint Pharmacy said they have no waitlist and they try to get everyone in for an appointment within a couple of days.
“We are just so thankful and relieved that the process has started and in three weeks it will be almost done,” James said. “We can feel safe and others around us can feel safe.”
To schedule an appointment at Southpoint Pharmacy in Durham, go to their website and send an email to the pharmacy.
To get on the scheduling list for the Durham County Department of Public Health, go to their website.