RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — As state lawmakers returned to Raleigh Wednesday, Republican leaders in the General Assembly raised concerns about the confusion surrounding the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine and called for additional hearings.
As the state prepares to increasingly utilize mass vaccination sites, that’s caused frustration among local health departments and hospital systems that are finding they won’t receive as many doses of the vaccine as they anticipated.
Cone Health said late last week that it was rescheduling more than 10,000 appointments.
“It’s just an indication that they’re making it up as they go along as opposed to planning things out and making sure that we have the best possible distribution plan that’s there,” said Sen. Phil Berger (R). “I really am concerned about the zig-zag that we’re seeing.”
House Speaker Tim Moore (R) wrote an email to members of the health oversight committee urging them to hold another hearing on vaccine distribution “as soon as possible.”
“Secretary Mandy Cohen apologized directly to county health departments for this lack of transparency and communication this week, but further action is needed,” Moore wrote.
Gov. Roy Cooper (D) addressed the situation during a press conference Wednesday.
“I know this is a maddening and frustrating time for many of you. Hundreds of thousands of you have had success in getting vaccinated, but many more of you haven’t been able to get appointments or have been put on waiting lists,” Cooper said.
He noted the federal government will increase vaccine shipments to states by 16 percent over the next three weeks but added, “We still need much more.”
Earlier this week, Cohen said providers will get a “baseline” of doses for three weeks that they can expect.
Cohen testified before state lawmakers earlier this month as CDC data showed North Carolina ranking among the slowest states to administer shots of the vaccine.
On Wednesday, Cohen said the state had administered 99 percent of the first doses sent here.
When asked what role the General Assembly will try to play in the vaccine rollout going forward, Berger said it is something the executive branch should manage but added legislators will seek to weigh in.
“We will have suggestions. There may be legislation at some point. But, at this point the best thing I think we can do is point out what we see as the problems,” Berger said.
Sen. Dan Blue (D-Wake) agreed that the legislature should raise concerns but cautioned against trying to get too involved in trying to impact the details of the vaccine distribution.
“We can’t be the ones to say you’re going to give X doses of the vaccine to one county and Y doses to another,” he said. “Too many cooks spoil the cake.”