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Vaccine providers struggling to keep up with current priority groups as they prepare for next phase

Teachers will be eligible to get the COVID-19 vaccine starting on Feb. 24, but some vaccine providers say they’re not able to keep up with the current phase.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — There’s growing pressure to increase vaccine supply, as North Carolina moves into phase three next week.

Teachers will be eligible to get the COVID-19 vaccine starting on Feb. 24, but some vaccine providers say they’re not able to keep up with the current phase.

Executives at Novant Health said the demand for appointments is overwhelming the vaccine supply.

“We open those appointments and they’re gone immediately,” Nikki Nissen, vice president of clinical operations for Novant Health said. 

“We don’t have the supply to meet the demand,” Dr. Jerome Williams, senior vice president of consumer engagement and strategic growth at Novant Health said. 

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Despite the limited supply, North Carolina is moving into Group 3 next week, and teachers will be the first to eligible for the vaccine.  Novant Health said they are dealing with the same problem now they’ve dealt with all along.

“We weren’t done with group one before we opened to Group 2, and now we are opening to group three without really a big increase in allocation,” Nissen said.

Meantime, Rowan County is encouraging people in Groups 1 and 2 to make their vaccine appointments this week before more people are eligible. The Mecklenburg County Health Department said they’re working to makes sure those groups continue to have appointments available to them.

“Prioritize those individuals who either fall into groups one and groups two and or are from populations that have been disproportionately impacted,”  Dr. Meg Sullivan, medical director for the Mecklenburg County Health Department, said. 

However, just a couple of weeks after teachers are eligible for the vaccine other frontline workers are expected to get their turn on March 10.

RELATED: White House: Weekly vaccine supply to states up 57% since Biden took office

“We’d love to have all of that done before we move into the March 10 date with the rest of Group 3, but don’t anticipate that happening,” Mecklenburg County Health Director Gibbie Harris said. 

“Unfortunately, without more allocation, we are going to continue to see that challenge,” Nissen said. 

Nissen said if Novant was to get a larger allocation than expected they could do additional events to vaccinate teachers, but they are not aware of that happening at the moment.

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.