State cuts county vaccine allocations for this week, sends shots to large-scale events in Charlotte

The Carolina Panthers are among those organizing mass clinics in Charlotte. [image courtesy Panthers.com]

Health departments and hospitals in North Carolina are facing cuts or total elimination of new COVID-19 vaccine allocations this week from the state, which has already led to appointments being cancelled for some and left local clinics for this week up in the air.

The News and Observer reported Saturday a “large portion” of the state’s 120,000 doses will go toward large-scale vaccination events, including events at Charlotte Motor Speedway and Bank of America Stadium.

Dare County Health and Human Services Director Dr. Sheila Davies told OBX Today Monday morning the changes are “problematic”, and that she has been trying to contact state officials since Thursday about the cuts.

Our allocation for this week was cut in half and if we do not get the 700 doses we were scheduled to receive we will be forced to cancel Friday’s clinic. The state has called a meeting with local health directors this afternoon at 3pm. I am waiting to hear what the outcome of that meeting is. We will be prepared to issue a statement after that meeting if the outcome is anything other than giving us the additional 700 doses we were supposed to receive.

“We know this is causing pain among providers who did an incredible job working to vaccinate residents quickly,” Chris Mackey, director of communications for NC DHHS told the Raleigh newspaper. “As long as we are getting such a small amount of vaccine as a state, there are going to be challenges and shortages as we try to ensure equitable access to vaccine, while getting shots into arms quickly. We understand this is hard for providers who are doing everything right.”

According to the report in the N&O, Cone Health, a health and hospital system that serves many counties in the Triad, announced Friday that it had to cancel 10,400 vaccination appointments in the coming week.

Several Western North Carolina hospitals are canceling hundreds of appointments because they aren’t getting their expected allocation from the state, according to N.C. Sen. Julie Mayfield. She and Guilford County Commissioner Chair Melvin “Skip” Alston said their area’s allocations were being redistributed to large-scale events in Charlotte.

A mass weekend clinic at the Charlotte Motor Speedway was expected to administer 16,000 shots and 20,000 to 30,000 people could be vaccinated at a future event at a clinic at Bank of America Stadium, The Charlotte Observer previously reported.

The events are joint efforts between Honeywell, Atrium Health and Tepper Sports & Entertainment, owner of the NFL franchise.

“Given federal indications that future supply could be impacted by the amount of vaccine states have on hand, DHHS has worked to exhaust the supply of first doses in the state,” Ford Porter, spokesperson for Governor Roy Cooper, told the N&O. “The governor understands people’s frustration, especially those who lost appointments, but the reality is that there is not enough vaccine currently in the state for all eligible people and the state will continue to work to balance speed and equity of distribution.”

This is a developing story, stay with OBX Today for updates.

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