A look at how Wake County is prioritizing vaccine distribution

Wake County News

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — What do you do when the number of people eligible to get vaccinated is far greater than the supply? Wake County is prioritizing doses. They said they’re doing it by age and zip code. Those 75+ and those living in zip codes with the highest positivity rate will go first.

“I was able to sign up for my mom and for a friend,” Ye Chen said.

Chen spent six hours Wednesday, online and over the phone, trying to get them appointments for the COVID-19 vaccine in Wake County.

“I got my mom’s response in four hours, and the other person. I still haven’t gotten a response yet,” Chen said.

Her mom is in her 80’s, her friend and neighbor is over 65.

So what’s behind the discrepancy?

It’s likely the way the county is prioritizing who gets the vaccine. Right now, Groups 1 and 2 can get the shot, which includes healthcare workers and those 65 and older. Together the county estimates they make up 180,000 plus people. They just don’t have that many doses.

The county said those that they determine to be at higher risk will get an appointment first. That includes those 75 and older and those that live in zip codes with the highest positivity rates. They don’t consider an individual’s health risk.

“I figure maybe it’ll take longer for her information to come back,” Chen said.

In Wake County those 75 and older have made up 68% of deaths from COVID-19.

The county said they’re using zip codes because if more people are infected in your community, you’re more likely to be exposed. Think about your gas station or grocery store.

“I see the theory of that. I don’t know how well it’s going to work in practice,” Sabra Faires, a Cary resident said.

“They need to consider neighborhoods and the diversity of our population,” Terry McManus, a Raleigh resident said.

“They just need to get it out as quickly as they can,” Robert Trawick, a Cary resident said.

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