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Nina Oliver: County will move to appointments for vaccines

Letter from Rowan Public Health Director Nina Oliver

As your Health Director, I feel a need to share honestly and frankly with you on the status of COVID-19 vaccine in our county.

Rowan County established a goal which was to create an efficient and effective system that help all those who needed a vaccine get one as quickly as possible. I realized early on that I was not going to get allocations that large.  We have more than 25,400 individuals eligible in groups one and two, which does not include the significant number of patient-facing health care providers, dentists, dental hygienists, and assistants, and all who qualify under the expanded group one definition. If 75% of those eligible wanted the vaccination, it will take me almost 24 weeks — nearly half a year — to get just these two groups through this process. Considering this, we have continued to appeal for everyone to be patient. As a community, we still have a long way to go to get where we want to be.

On Thursday at 9:11 p.m. we received our notice of allocation for the week of January 25th.  Rowan County Public Health was allocated 300 doses, less than a third of what we fought to receive last week. I hope you see the difficult situation the Health Department is in trying to get the vaccine to you. We have had the utmost support of local physicians and pharmacists willing to help distribute and becoming certified to deliver the vaccine; however, every vaccine they can distribute comes from our extremely limited stockpile of now 300 doses. It is the availability of vaccine, not our process, that limits our ability to get vaccinations completed. I will continue to fight to get more doses allocated to our county.

Monday, January 25th, we will move to an appointment-based model for clinics.  We will open appointment slots at 10 a.m. on our First Dose Clinics webpage (rowancountync.gov/1671/First-Dose-Clinics)  Moving forward, we will open appointment slots Mondays at 10 a.m. each week for Wednesday vaccine clinics. We would like to allow you to schedule appointments further in advance. However, we do not want to put you in a situation that occurred this week with surrounding counties where appointments were scheduled, but they did not receive vaccines causing (in some cases thousands of) appointments to be cancelled. I will continue to vigorously fight for more vaccine allotment for Rowan County. If I am notified that we will receive additional doses, I will add more appointments to the clinic that week.

Another option is to reach out to your primary care provider for a referral to Novant Health’s vaccination clinic effort, or by logging into your MyChart account at https://www.novantmychart.org/mychart.

As of this week, per state data, 3,768 individuals have received their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. This is around 14% of the eligible population by age, or 2.6% of our total population.

One last thought, if you are eligible but healthy and willing, hold off vying for the appointment slots that Rowan County will be opening on Monday until we open more, or focus your attempts if you are a Novant Health patient to seek a vaccination through their clinic.

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