Small, rural central NC counties experiencing decline in vaccine demand

Local News

BENSON, N.C. (WNCN) — As a pause in the use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine continues, many counties in our area are seeing demand for the COVID-19 vaccine slow. Statewide about 30 percent of us are vaccinated, but in smaller, more rural counties that number is much lower.

CBS 17 was at one clinic in Benson Wednesday. At the end of the day, they had seven doses of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccine left and struggled to find arms to put them in. In the end they did.

“We’re starting to see a slowdown effect,” Ritesh Patel said.

Patel is a pharmacist and also owns and manages several pharmacies. Over the last few months, he’s partnered with doctor’s offices, religious groups, and various businesses across North Carolina and Virginia. The idea is to bring the COVID-19 vaccine into communities. But what happened at the Benson clinic is becoming a trend.

“We’ve done about 80 to a hundred shots somewhere between second shots and first shots. So we did both Pfizer and Moderna today,” Patel explained.

But he has 8,000 doses. He’s hoping to get those out in the coming days.

While the state says 30 percent of all adults in North Carolina are vaccinated, in Johnston County it’s much lower, only 17 percent are.

“It’s time to really figure out a way as a community to really get people that are on the fence to right now which I feel like is most likely the reason to figure out how we can get them to come in and get their shot,” Patel said.

Patel said the pause of the J&J vaccine hasn’t impacted their work.

Over in Halifax County, the Health Director said they had to cancel a mass vaccination event Wednesday. They planned to administer 600 J&J doses but only six had signed up.

Wake County said they’re switching out J&J doses they distributed to pharmacies and doctor’s offices, giving them Pfizer or Moderna instead.

“We got to go back to as a community even our flu shots… we still a have a pretty low number of people that take that up that vaccine, so I think its overall attitude toward vaccines,” Patel said.

He’s has another mass vaccination event planned for Morrisville on Saturday, April 17.

Here’s a link for more information.

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