FACTS. I tell you the way it is. Straight up.
Many of us in the General Assembly are getting calls from county health directors, hospital leaders, and constituents about problems with the COVID-19 vaccine distribution. After speaking with many of you, DHHS, and the NC Healthcare Association, this is our understanding of the situation:
NC gets a weekly shipment of 120,000 first dose vaccines from the federal government.
As you are all aware of by now, NC has been one of the slowest states in the country to document vaccine distribution (data entry or “data lag” is a huge issue and likely explains most of the issue).
We believe – due to recent negative press coverage and a desire to move NC up in the vaccine distribution rankings – DHHS is holding two mass vaccination events: this week at the Charlotte Motor Speedway and next week at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte.
DHHS has also designated about a dozen high-throughput sites that have done a good job of quickly administering larger allotments and entering data into the DHHS system.
Next week, of NC’s 120,000 first dose shipment, 40,000 doses are being diverted to the Charlotte Motor Speedway.
The result? Every vaccine site will receive fewer doses, including the high-throughput sites, and many locations will receive zero doses next week – and likely the following week too. Specific example: My home county of Macon is scheduled to get 2250 doses of vaccine for this coming week. They have 2250 people scheduled and were just told they are only getting 200 doses. The other 2050 doses have been diverted to Mecklenburg County. NO SIR NO MAAM. That is unacceptable. Note: we are talking about first dose vaccines here, not second doses. The second dose shipments are supposed to mirror the first dose shipments from 3-4 weeks prior (depending on if they are Pfizer or Moderna vaccines). In other words, if your county received 100 Moderna vaccines 4 weeks ago, it should receive 100 second dose Moderna vaccines this week.
DHHS plans to move the dial back towards “an equitable geographic distribution” following the two mass vaccination events in Charlotte over the next two weeks.
I have been involved in sending two letters to the governor and the secretary of Health and Human Services expressing my concern about vaccine distribution. I have joined with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle and expressing this. As you may know I’m the chairman of the western mountain caucus in the General assembly. Today I joined with many of my fellow legislators on both sides of the aisle in mailing a letter to the governor and the secretary expressing concern. Thanks to Senator Julia Mayfield (D-Buncombe) for helping me get this letter out from our Western delegation.
Please understand that the decisions about the vaccine have been made entirely by the department of health and human services without input from the legislature. This week we will express our desire for more equitable distribution to our rural areas. Believe me I am fighting for Western NC. What just happened is simply unacceptable.