New Hanover County received more COVID-19 vaccine doses from the state this week, allowing for more seniors to receive their first shots through the health department as well as from additional private practice locations, officials announced Wednesday.
The New Hanover County Health Department on Jan. 7 began vaccinating seniors 75 years old and older as part of the state’s current guidelines for eligibility. State officials are working through the Trump administration’s announcement Tuesday about expanded guidelines for vaccine eligibility. Click here to read more on that.
The county opened appointment slots on Thursday and Friday for the 955 vaccine doses it now has. Less than three hours after announcing the openings, county officials reported shortly before 2 p.m. that those appointments were all full.
The NHRMC Physician Group primary care practices opened COVID-19 vaccinations to their established patients in the eligible age group starting Jan. 8.
Coinciding with the latest shipment from the state, Wilmington Health is also now approved to administer COVID-19 vaccinations.
Wilmington Health is slated to receive 975 doses of the Pfizer vaccine Wednesday from the county, Wilmington Health CEO Jeff James said, adding that it is one of the first independent practices in the state to gain approval. The state opened its enrollment system this week for health care providers to administer the vaccine, and approvals are expected to continue in the coming weeks.
“We will start administering those as soon as possible,” James said about Wilmington Health’s allotment. “Wilmington Health will be part of the community solution from the very start. We will not only be vaccinating our own patients.”
Besides NHRMC Physician Group Primary Care patients who have received their initial shots in the two-dose process, New Hanover Regional Medical Center also got nearly 2,000 doses from the county to vaccinate eligible hospital patients.
“Transferring a portion of our first-dose vaccines and partnering with NHRMC and Wilmington Health will further Public Health’s efforts to meet the high demand and need among our adults who are 75 and older,” Donna Fayko, New Hanover County’s Health and Human Services Director, said in a news release Wednesday. “And we will continue this partnership in the coming months, to ensure all those in our community who need and want a vaccine can receive it, within the priorities and phases outlined by the state.”
The hospital also has administered more than 4,400 first doses and more than 3,400 of the second doses to its frontline health care staff and providers, who along with long-term care facility residents also fall under the initial priority group.
The vaccination rollout is taking place as COVID-19 cases and deaths are on the rise across the country, including locally.
NHRMC, which sees patients from seven counties in the region, has seen about 1,200 patients hospitalized because of COVID-19 since last spring, according to its latest released numbers as of Jan. 8 (see the hospital's dashboard here
). Of those, 974 people have been released, and 175 people have died while hospitalized. NHRMC last week saw, on average, 68 patients in the hospital because of COVID-19, up from earlier months.
James, who said Wilmington Health has seen case numbers increase along with the state and national trends, said he expects the practice to receive more vaccine shipments.
“We do believe that we’ll continue to receive supply however we’re uncertain on timing and amounts or type [between the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines that have received emergency-use authorization],” he said.
As vaccine demand outpaces the manufacturers’ supplies nationwide, he cautioned, the rollout is expected to hit sticking points.
“Please expect delays,” James said. “We’ll be doing this as fast as we can, but it’s going to be challenging.”
As of Wednesday, under the state’s vaccination plan, those 75 and older are eligible. The Trump administration on Tuesday announced expanding eligibility to those 65 and older or with comorbid conditions. States have to adopt those guidelines.
New Hanover County appointments:
When doses are available, the county’s Coronavirus Call Center’s phone number is 798-6800 and open 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Friday. Appointments for this week are full, and the county is not keeping a waitlist but advising people to sign up here
for updates for future appointments.
Wilmington Health appointments:
call 407-5115 to schedule; vaccinations will be given at 1202 Medical Center Drive initially with a second location likely added in the coming weeks.
Patients can schedule through their NHRMC MyChart
account or if they don’t have a MyChart account, they can call 662-2020 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Correction: This version includes corrected figures from NHRMC about how many doses they have given already to their frontline health care staff and providers.