By WECT Staff | January 29, 2021 at 9:47 AM EST – Updated January 29 at 9:48 AM
PITTSBORO, N.C. (WNCN) — North Carolina Treasurer Dale Folwell (R) suggested Thursday that “if all fails” the state should get advice from Chick-fil-A to try to improve the distribution of COVID-19 vaccines.
Gov. Roy Cooper (D) acknowledged the frustrations some people have experienced as he toured Piedmont Health SeniorCare in Pittsboro but said the state is making progress.
“We’ve seen a mad scramble for a lot of people to try to find places (to get vaccinated),” he said. “In a few more days, we’ll be at a million doses that have gone off the shelf in North Carolina. We are working on a system to have all of the first doses that we get from the government out within a week.”
According to the North Carolina Deptartment of Health and Human Services, out of almost 1.2 million doses that have arrived in North Carolina for providers to administer, 70 percent of those doses have gone to people. Of the first doses that have arrived, 88 percent have been administered.
Earlier this week, state health officials apologized to local health departments and hospital administrators who were caught off guard by the reduced supply of doses they were told they’d receive this week, as the state moved to increase supplies at mass vaccination sites. That led Cone Health to postpone more than 10,000 appointments.
Cooper said the state has tried to emphasize speed after facing criticism for North Carolina ranking among the slowest states to administer doses.
“We were concerned that we might have our allocation cut, which would be bad for everybody across the board,” Cooper said, adding that the state needs to focus on balancing speed with equity.
“The entire country has to do better on this. It’s one of the reasons why we are (at Piedmont Health) today. We wanted to make certain that we got all of our first doses off the shelf.”
Folwell said the state should be utilizing more primary care physicians, pediatricians, and pharmacies to administer vaccines.
“There’s nobody that has more interest in or knowledge of how to distribute products than the people I saw last night at Chick-Fil-A. I mean, this can’t be that complicated because we know the age of the people. We know where the people are,” he said.
“In 62 years, I’ve never gone to a hospital to get a vaccine,” said Folwell. “For more than 100 years, citizens have entrusted primary care physicians, pediatricians and pharmacies to administer vaccines.”
DHHS Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen pointed out last week about 292,000 doses were administered in North Carolina, an increase of about 100,000 over the previous week.
“But, I do want to remind folks, we have very limited supply. So, while folks are working very hard here we know all across the state and across the nation vaccine supply is very limited,” she said. “I think there’s even more capacity that we want to build. So, we are at the ready. We want to be first in line to tell the federal government if there’s more vaccine we are ready to get it out here in North Carolina.”
Piedmont Health SeniorCare in Pittsboro began administering doses of the Moderna vaccine just over two weeks ago. Most people are making appointments to receive it, but managers said there have been some walk-in clients as well. The agency works with seniors so they can stay in their own homes and works to help underserved communities.
“Our biggest challenge is not having enough vaccine for everyone who wants it and staying within the parameters for the state’s guidance of vaccination,” said Crystal Toran, who was administering vaccines Thursday. “We’re just riding the wave, doing the best we can.”
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