Wake County prioritizing vaccine doses based on age and zip code

Wake County News

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — Instead of prioritizing COVID-19 vaccine distribution based on individual health risks, the Wake County Health Department is prioritizing doses based on age and where you live.

“With very limited supply, we wanted to get the vaccine out as quickly as possible to those who are at highest risk for death or hospitalization,” said Ryan Jury, vaccine lead at Wake County Public Health. “And then, also recognizing that the community you live in or interact in plays a contributing factor to transmission.”

People 65 and older are eligible to request an appointment to get the vaccine. But the Wake County Health Department says people who are 75 and older, which account for a majority of COVID deaths in Wake County, and who live in zip codes where transmission is high, will get appointments first.

“I don’t see where that would be fair,” said Arlene Sanders, a Historic Oakwood resident who received the first dose of the vaccine on Friday. “I think it should be strictly the ages, regardless of where you live.”

It may not seem fair, but Wake County’s vaccine team believes this method will be most efficient in reducing COVID-19 deaths.

Jury explained, “Our goal is to not cut people out or keep people from being eligible, it’s really just again, with very small and limited doses, to make sure we can do the greatest impact of reducing hospitalizations and deaths.”

He added, “We were also told by the state that as vaccine providers, we needed to develop strategies around ensuring equitable access and reaching out to historically marginalized populations.”

The Wake County Health Department expects to get around 1,000 doses of the vaccine next week. With doses in short supply, it may take weeks or months to get an appointment.

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