CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The Carolinas are trying to catch up with the second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.
North Carolina has administered more than 99% of the first doses the state received, but just 41% of the second doses, according to state data. The rate is even lower for long-term care facilities where 10% of the second doses have been administered.
At Bojangles Coliseum, the Mecklenburg County Department of Public Health is running a vaccine clinic that includes first and second doses; the company, StarMed, is handling second doses.
County officials say most people schedule their second dose while getting their first dose. However, across the state, it’s taking time to see the progress, particularly at long term care facilities.
About four weeks after getting her first COVID-19 vaccine, resident Katherine Hillman is getting her second dose later this week at the Charlotte, a senior living community.
“I’m looking forward to that because once we get the second one, we will feel so much better about the whole thing,” said Hillman.
“I think of the ones who originally got the first dose, they will all get the second dose,” said Leslie Workman, director of the Charlotte.
However, state data shows the progress takes time; only 10% of the second doses received by North Carolina for long term care facilities have been administered. It’s done through a federal program in partnership with CVS and Walgreens.
Michelle Riese, a member of the state’s vaccine advisory committee, said one reason it takes time to administer the second dose is that allocations were based on a facilities’ capacity, not the actual number of people who live there.
“If a facility has room for 100 people to live there and there’s only 80 there right now, they still got an allocation based on the 100 people instead of the 80 people,” Ries said.
“We may have overstated the amount of people that were going to get vaccinated,” said Workman. “Assuming 100% participation, I wanted to make sure we were covered.”
Outside of long-term care facilities, 41% of the second doses received have been administered in North Carolina, state data shows. Ries said reshuffling priority groups, like those 65 and up, contributed to that because the first doses took longer than expected.
“We’re still catching up on people who are actually eligible for that second dose,” said Ries.
Meantime, South Carolina health officials say they’ve received reports of providers canceling appointments for second doses. Atrium Health and Novant Health both tell WCNC Charlotte they haven’t had to cancel any second dose appointments, which are made when patients get their first vaccine.
Hillman says she hopes others are as fortunate as she is.
“That’s my hope that everybody can get it,” said Hillman.
The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services said it’s important to remember the federal vaccine program for long-term care facilities began on Dec. 28, and those second doses just started four weeks later on Jan. 28.