Delivery is taking time
Swain County Health Department started providing COVID-19 vaccines to those in Phase 1b, group 1, those 75 years or older, on Tuesday, Jan. 12.
“I expect to be in this phase for the next 2-4 weeks,” said Alison Cochran, Swain County health director by email. “We will be taking appointments this Thursday for the following week.”
The department was full and it briefly paused its appointments. County residents who are 75 or older and want the vaccine must make an appointment at the health department and are being encouraged to call on or after today (Thursday, Jan. 14) to make an appointment.
Cochran didn't respond to questions on further details of the number of vaccines the department has received or how the vaccines could be delivered more quickly.
Over this past week, the health department reported it was having phone issues due to the high number of calls it was receiving from people who want to get the vaccine.
The next group of vaccines will be Group 2 and 3, including resident health care workers and essential workers who were not vaccinated in Phase 1a.
Once those have been delivered, vaccines can start going to Group 2—people 65 and older—but that isn’t anticipated to start until March at the earliest.
The number of positive COVID-19 cases in Swain County has continued to go up, with the anticipated impact of social gatherings during Christmas now reflected in the numbers. As of Monday, Jan. 11, there were 115 active COVID-19 cases in the county. Since testing began, there have been 885 people test positive among a total of 13,758 tests.
One additional county resident has died this past week because of the virus, bringing the total number of county deaths to 10.
North Carolina hit a record of 11,000 new cases reported on Saturday, Jan. 9. In a news briefing Tuesday afternoon, NC Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen stressed the issue, saying, “This virus is everywhere.”
Last week, she urged people to be cautious and limit trips outside their home to only those things that are essential. For people 65 and older, she suggested they opt for delivery of groceries and other items instead of leaving home.
As of Tuesday, there have been a total of 635,975 positive cases of the virus. The daily percent positive rate has jumped up to 14.7% and there have been 7,638 deaths statewide.
Gov. Roy Cooper stressed against becoming “numb” to the numbers, they are not just statistics, he said, they represent real people.
Cooper said lies and misinformation have led some to be skeptical about the safety of the vaccine.
Vaccine distribution has increased over the past 7 days with more than 100,000 doses delivered statewide. To speed up delivery, NCDHHS is working with 14 health systems in the state to host large-scale vaccination events where up to 45,000 vaccines will be delivered. Asheville is anticipated to be among the sites for those events.
Last week, the Governor announced the National Guard would be called in to assist in the roll out of the vaccinations.
Swain Health Director Cochran said she has “not received any information pertaining to the National Guard helping in our county.”