By the end of January, NHRMC will have vaccinated more than 20,000 healthcare workers and older members of the community against COVID-19.
As of Jan. 21, the organization has given 13,138 total doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, with another 5,000 doses scheduled through the weekend.
Those strong numbers are a testament to the “phenomenal” vaccination team, said Mike Melroy, NHRMC’s Pharmacy Director. The vaccine supply that NHRMC receives changes every week based on how the state allocates vaccines, so it’s difficult to plan past a week.
But the teams are paying careful attention to what works at its various clinics and constantly looking for new ways to improve service and distribute vaccines quickly to protect as much of the population as possible. A decision to put a vaccination clinic at Stone Theatres in the Pointe at Barclay was the result of a desire to have a bigger space to reach more people. The location allowed the team to go from vaccinating a few hundred people in one day to about 1,300.
Not only are they reaching higher numbers, those receiving the vaccines have been quick to praise how smoothly the process works and how friendly the staff and volunteers are.
“Every day, I hear from patients, doctors and others who are complementing how the team is not only vaccinating quickly, but making it a really positive experience,” said John Gizdic, NHRMC President and CEO. “This is the result of a dedicated team working with the support of community partners and businesses with a common goal of defeating this virus.”
Golf carts to help transport people and designated parking spaces for curbside service to assist anyone with mobility challenges are among the ways the team is working to make it easier for community members to get their vaccines.
"We are proud of our hardworking teams of staff and volunteers for setting up an efficient community vaccination program," said Dr. West Paul, NHRMC Chief Clinical Officer. "We know that the faster we get vaccines in arms, the more likely we are to receive larger allocations from the state in the future."
About 73 percent of the doses that have already been administered are the first dose of the two-dosage vaccine. (Healthcare providers recommend receiving the second dose within three to four weeks since the vaccine may be less effective with only one dose.)
NHRMC is following North Carolina’s vaccine distribution plan, which currently allows the vaccine to be administered to people in Groups 1 and 2: healthcare workers and adults 65 years or older.
Demand for the vaccine is extremely high, with 2,000 appointments filling up within 66 minutes earlier this week. Two subsequent openings of 1,200 slots were each filled 40 minutes after opening.
That demand has a silver lining, Melroy said: It shows that healthcare workers and community members are not hesitant about receiving the vaccine.
The number of vaccines NHRMC receives each week from the state depends on several factors, including population density and how many vaccines the state has been able to administer. If clinics can show that they’re efficient in giving their existing inventory, they may be able to receive a higher allocation in the next drop.
New appointment slots are released when NHRMC confirms a new allotment of available vaccines from the state. Find out when new vaccine appointments are available at NHRMC.org/coronavirus. You can also sign up to receive an email when new slots open by visiting: http://eepurl.com/hoG4r1
Have more questions about the COVID-19 vaccine? This post answers commonly asked questions.