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Patience needed as vaccine rollout continues

When it comes to waiting in line for a vaccine that could save you or someone you know from getting sick, and maybe even save some lives in the process, patience is hardly an easy thing to practice.

But with Beaufort County’s COVID-19 vaccination efforts in full swing, patience has seldom been more important. Many members of the community are realizing that becoming eligible to receive the vaccine by way of the county health department doesn’t mean they’ll be able to get an appointment immediately.

Vaccine allotment has a major role in the appointment-setting process — and that factor is largely out of the health department’s hands.

Last week, the health department reminded us that much of its vaccine planning happens in one-week increments. To put it simply: The government each Tuesday informs each state of the number of vaccines they’ll receive the following week. Here in North Carolina, the state government then uses Wednesday and Thursday to decide how to disperse its allotted doses amongst 100 counties. The state shares those numbers with the counties each Thursday, giving the counties the weekend to plan how to administer those vaccines. The doses arrive by Monday or Tuesday, and counties work to administer all of those doses by the end of the week.

And then the cycle begins again.

“Because of this very short time frame, federal, state, and local providers must lean forward in

their planning and make presumptions in regard to vaccination efforts,” the health department said in a press release. “For example, we presume that the number of vaccines each provider receives will at least remain consistent and most likely increase as pharmaceutical companies develop a more robust supply chain.”

That’s why the health department was able to schedule and fill all of its appointments for January within the first week of 2021. And that’s also why the health department couldn’t set any new appointments last week when Gov. Roy Cooper announced that the current phase for vaccine eligibility had been expanded to include everyone ages 65 and older. There simply weren’t enough doses to make that feasible.

Near the end of last week, the county received the good news that the health department was set to receive 175 additional doses of the Moderna vaccine.

We certainly hope we receive more good news regarding vaccine allotment in the weeks to come; it is critical for those who are covered in the first few phases of the vaccine rollout plan to receive their first does as soon as possible. At the same time, we understand that the week-by-week cycle isn’t always ideal for the health department or anyone who’s waiting for their chance to get vaccinated.

So be patient and keep an eye on the latest updates from the health department. Things can and likely will change rapidly over the next few months.