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High demand for limited supply of COVID-19 vaccine

An issue with COVID-19 vaccine availability is frustrating thousands of Beaufort County residents: There is too much demand and not enough supply.

“It’s tough, and it’s stressful,” said one 75-year-old county resident, who wished to remain anonymous.

This is a problem,” said Stacey Thalmann, 72. “Lots of seniors live here, and we’re being hung out to dry.”

The demand for vaccines grew significantly last week after Gov. Roy Cooper announced modifications to the state’s phased vaccine rollout process, expanding the current eligibility window to include everyone ages 65 and older. That increased the number of eligible individuals in Beaufort County to approximately 12,000, according to the health department.

To accommodate the larger amount of eligible individuals, Beaufort County Health Director Jim Madson has asked for a higher allocation of vaccines from the state. Every Thursday or Friday, counties learn what their allocations will be for the following week.

In an open letter to Beaufort County residents, Madson said he had asked the state to start sending the health department at least 800 doses a week. The entire letter can be viewed HERE.

“Just today, I received my notice of allocation for next week,” Madson wrote in the letter, dated Jan. 22. “I have been allocated 300 doses. Less than half the request. I hope you see the difficult situation the Health Department is in trying to get vaccine to you. It is the availability of vaccine, not our process that limits our ability to get vaccinations completed. I will continue to fight to get more allocated to our county.”

Given the new allocation, Madson said the health department is planning on administering 300 doses per week over the next four weeks. That means 1,200 appointments will be created. Those appointments will become available at 8 a.m. on Monday, Jan. 25. Individuals will be able to make appointments at that time by calling 252-940-6150, or by accessing an online scheduling link through bchd.net.

Madson said the large-scale vaccination site set to open next week at the Greenville Convention Center is another viable vaccination opportunity for Beaufort County residents.

“As of this week, approximately 16% of our eligible population has been vaccinated (4% of our total population),” Madson wrote.

“One last thought, if you are eligible, but healthy and willing, hold off vying for the appointment slots which Beaufort County will be opening on Monday until we open more, or focus your attempts to get into the Large-Scale Vaccine site mentioned above.”