This week, Catawba County Public Health is getting twice as many first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine as usual. Now, the department is trying to fill appointments to use the doses.
The county health department typically receives about 1,200 to 1,500 first doses of the vaccine each week, according to the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services. This week, the department will get 3,500 doses, public health’s Community Engagement Specialist Emily Killian said.
Now, public health, Catawba Valley Health System and Frye Regional Medical Center are working to fill appointments and administer the allotment, according to a press release from Catawba County Public Health.
“In line with this, we have opened up the phone lines to get more people in quickly to use our additional doses,” Killian said.
The county is accepting appointments by phone at 828-282-2002 and online at ww.catawbavaccine.org, according to the press release.
“We are excited to make this change, as it signals that more vaccine is becoming available through increased allocations,” Catawba County Public Health Director Jennifer McCracken said in the release. “More providers are also coming on board with additional doses, which means it’s becoming easier and quicker for people to get vaccinated.”
As more providers have started offering the vaccine and more doses of the vaccine are available in Catawba County, it is easier for people to get the vaccine, Killian said. The new providers have decreased pent-up demand for the vaccine, so the county isn’t handling the brunt of the vaccine demand.
So far, about 25 percent of Catawba County’s population is at least partially vaccinated, according to state numbers.
“Vaccination efforts are gaining momentum, and we continue to work toward achieving a high vaccination rate that will protect the health of our residents and help our community get back to a sense of normalcy,” McCracken said in the release.
The county health department is pausing use of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine after Tuesday’s federal recommendation to stop use temporarily. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration recommended providers pause use of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine while the departments review several cases of rare blood clots potentially linked to the vaccine.
Catawba County Public Health received its first shipment of 1,200 Johnson and Johnson vaccine doses last week. Some were used but no adverse effects have been reported from those doses, Killian said.
Any unused doses will be stored until the federal government issues more guidance, Killian said.