CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Throughout the COVID-19 vaccine rollout, North Carolina has been accustomed to seeing new batches of vaccination appointments opening, then, booking up almost immediately.
Last Wednesday, the state entered its fifth and final vaccination group, opening vaccinations up to anyone 16 years and older. But, in a change from the norm, slots at various providers remained unclaimed days later.
Providers that were previously appointment-only have started to accept walk-ups in an effort to bust through unclaimed doses.
StarMed, which assists Mecklenburg Public Health with COVID-19 vaccinations, has started to advertise walk-up vaccination availabilities, tweeting that, as of early Monday afternoon, there were hundreds of doses waiting.
Atrium Health made a similar move Friday for its Johnson & Johnson administration at Bank of America Stadium, tweeting walk-ups were welcome at that specific mass vaccination event.
The developments signal that supply could be starting to exceed the demand, leading health officials to watch closely.
"I think the appointments are more available than they were, but we're also seeing a tipping point, where we're moving from demand outpacing supply to supply-and-demand sort of balancing out at this point," Mecklenburg County's Public Health Director Gibbie Harris said.
As of Monday, more than 40% of North Carolina adults were at least partially vaccinated and more than 30% of North Carolina adults were considered fully vaccinated, according to the state's Department of Health and Human Services data.
While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, along with other health experts, is still trying to determine the true herd immunity level for COVID-19, a widely held threshold is between 70% and 80%.
Mecklenburg Public Health's Medical Director Dr. Meg Sullivan said more work is needed to help with the uptake of vaccines in all groups.
"Our focus has been on getting out into the community, making sure there's accurate information out there, providing vaccine in the community, doubling down on those efforts now, and really trying to go out and reach everybody to address any concerns or any questions they might have," Sullivan said.
Have a relative or friend in another state and want to know when they can get vaccinated? Visit NBC News' Plan Your Vaccine site to find out about each state's vaccine rollout plan.