1/4/21: DARE OPENS VACCINE REGISTRATION TO PEOPLE AGE 75 AND OLDER; ONLY THREE CLINICS SCHEDULED IN NEXT 2 WEEKS. DCDHHS Info Is Lacking.

North Carolina residents and property owners age 75 or older may register now to receive a first dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine at one of three Dare County vaccination clinics in the next two weeks, according to a news bulletin posted this afternoon on the Dare County Dept. of Health and Human Services’ website.

To be effective, a second dose of Moderna vaccine must be administered 28 days after the first. The State of North Carolina has not yet received second doses of the vaccine, according to Dr. Mandy Cohen, Secretary of the N.C. Dept. of Health and Human Services, who spoke at a briefing in Raleigh last week. (Vaccine shipments arrive on Tuesdays, she said. Distributions are made on Fridays.)

See the DCDHHS bulletin at DCDHHS COVID-19 Update #73 | Monday, January 4, 2020 | COVID-19 Bulletins & News | Dare County, NC (darenc.com).

The vaccination clinics will be held Wed., Jan. 6, at the Thomas A. Baum Senior Center, 300 S. Mustian St., in Kill Devil Hills; Mon., Jan. 11, at the Dare County Parks and Recreation Center, 602 S. Mustian St., in Kill Devil Hills; and Sat., Jan. 16, at the Fessenden Center, N.C. Hwy. 12, in Buxton.  

“Vaccine clinics will be offered on an ongoing basis,” the DCDHHS bulletin states, “based on our weekly allocation of the vaccine from the state.

“We are currently only receiving a very limited number of doses each week. Please be patient and understand that it will take time to provide everyone the vaccine who wishes to receive it.”

As The Beacon recently reported, Dr. Cohen said at the briefing that the State is currently receiving weekly 60,000 doses each of the Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna vaccines.

That means that Dare County will be receiving its “limited” weekly allocation from just 60,000 doses. According to Dr. Cohen, there are 2 million people age 75 or older residing in North Carolina.

To register for a clinic appointment, you must call the COVID-19 Call Center at (252) 475-5008, Monday through Friday, from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. There will be no walk-in appointments.

You will need to produce documentary proof of North Carolina residency or property ownership, which may include your driver’s license, your copy of a current lease or mortgage, your current vehicle registration, or your current tax record, according to the bulletin.

The DCDHHS’s bulletin does not restrict registration to Dare County residents and property owners, referring instead to N.C. residents and property owners. Why?

To be eligible for registration, you also cannot have been vaccinated for any other reason within 14 days before your scheduled COVID-19 vaccine and cannot have been in direct contact with anyone who has had the virus in the past 14 days or have been infected yourself in the past 14 days.

We do not know how many people age 75+ live in Dare County and nearby counties, but we would suspect you will encounter a major problem with getting through to the Call Center to register for the free vaccine. The bulletin says only that the DCDHHS is “expecting a high call volume, so please keep trying if you do not get an answer right away.”

The Beacon finds both the DCDHHS’s bulletin and its plan of action grossly lacking.

First, we would like to be told how many vaccine doses the DCDHHS is currently receiving from the State and can expect to receive in Phase 1B. This seems to us to be a matter of fundamental public information that public-health officials—if not the Dare County Board of Commissioners—should provide.

The DCDHHS also should have explained in its bulletin the steps in the vaccination process, not just the registration process.

Exactly how will people age 75 or older–many of whom may be frail or non-ambulatory–be vaccinated? Will they be able to wait in their vehicles for a nurse to come to them to administer their injections? Precisely what physical demands will be made upon them?

Further: What hours will the clinics be held? How much in advance will people have to arrive for their appointments? How many people can be vaccinated at each clinic in a given hour?

We could go on.

The scheduling of a clinic this Wednesday (!) in what is essentially “downtown” Outer Banks virtually guarantees a telephone logjam. We wonder if the DCDHHS thought to prioritize the administration of these vaccinations, starting with the “oldest old” and progressing from there?

Surely, there is a more efficient, rational, and less frustrating way of administering vaccinations to the members of Group One of Phase 1B than as a first-come/first-serve free-for-all. A lottery system strikes us as more fair and equitable than the system implemented. 

Good luck, everyone. The Beacon is not going to be calling the DCDHHS any time soon. We would appreciate hearing from anyone who is able to register for an appointment about the directions they receive from the Call Center. We would love to learn that our skepticism is not warranted.

Ann G. Sjoerdsma, 1/4/21

2 thoughts on “1/4/21: DARE OPENS VACCINE REGISTRATION TO PEOPLE AGE 75 AND OLDER; ONLY THREE CLINICS SCHEDULED IN NEXT 2 WEEKS. DCDHHS Info Is Lacking.

  1. Tried continuously from 3 PM until 4:45 PM. Busy signal each and every time. Probably only have one line available and have one person answering. I agree with Ann that this appointment arrangement has been extremely poorly conceived. God forbid that they would have Walgreens and/or CVS run the show. It might work.

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    1. Thanks for the report, Todd. The State’s decision last week to change the prioritization of vaccine recipients undoubtedly has DCDHHS scrambling, but it didn’t have to schedule a clinic this week already. It could have given more time and thought to administration.

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