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Covid-19 vaccine appointments full in New Hanover as call center flooded with inquiries [Free]

With vaccine availability opening up, New Hanover County Public Health is receiving high numbers of requests from residents seeking the Covid-19 vaccine. (Port City Daily/File)

Update 4:15 p.m.: This article has been updated to incorporate New Hanover County’s afternoon notice announcing Covid-19 appointments are full.

NEW HANOVER COUNTY — Covid-19 vaccinations in New Hanover County are fully booked through Tuesday, Jan. 12.

After announcing appointments would open to people 75 and older Tuesday afternoon, the county scheduled 3,000 appointments Wednesday. The announcement created an administrative logjam, with phone lines full Wednesday and busy tones common.

Related: Tri-county area to begin Covid-19 vaccination of seniors 75 and up [Free]

For the time being, the county is not scheduling any additional appointments. Availability will be announced when the county is given additional vaccine supplies.

“There are around 17,000 people who are 75 and older in New Hanover County,” Health and Human Services director Donna Fayko said in a county press release Wednesday afternoon. “And we are trying to get to as many of them as possible, as quickly as we can – but we can only vaccinate as many people as the doses we have. We hope to receive an additional supply from the state next week, but at this time we don’t know when or how many that will be.” 

Phase 1B

Local health departments are starting to progress into the next phase of the vaccination plan. After the effort opened with vaccinations for medical workers on the frontlines of pandemic response late last month, availability opened for individuals older than 75 to sign to receive the first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine. 

Wednesday, New Hanover County Public Health was flooded with calls at its Coronavirus Call Center from residents trying to schedule an appointment for an inoculation, according to a county spokesperson.  There is no cost to receive the vaccine.

“We have 20 call takers in our center helping residents who are 75 and older schedule a time slot to be vaccinated, but with hundreds calling, there will be a wait time,” the county announced Wednesday morning. 

In New Hanover County, vaccinations for residents 75-and-older began Thursday. Residents were not required to provide identification to verify their age, and residency is not a requirement for receiving the vaccine in New Hanover, according to a spokesperson. 

Health departments specifically are transitioning past the first step of the vaccination plan, Phase 1A, into Phase 1B. While Phase 1A includes health care workers as well as staff and residents of long-term care facilities, Phase 1B opens up the vaccine’s availability to a wider group: individuals 75-and-older (Group 1), other health care and frontline essential workers 50-and-older (Group 2), and health care and frontline essential workers of any age (Group 3). 

“There is not enough vaccine for everyone in this phase to be vaccinated at the same time,” according to the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services vaccination plan

According to a New Hanover County spokesperson, there is not yet a timeline for moving past Group 1 of Phase 1B. 

“Moving to groups 2 and 3 within Phase 1b will depend on supplies and uptake of vaccines by the people eligible now,” the spokesperson wrote in an email. “The latest update of the N.C. plan improves focus on the important priorities of preventing loss of [life], protecting the most vulnerable, maintaining equitable access, and ensuring societal functions.”

The county now has supplies of the two approved vaccines, Pfizer and Moderna, both of which require a second dose.

Surrounding counties

Brunswick County announced vaccines for individuals 75-and-older would begin as early as 9 a.m. Wednesday, Jan. 6. The county is expecting weekly shipments of the vaccine, according to a news release. As of Tuesday, the county had just 100 appointments available.

Eligible individuals in Brunswick County are encouraged to call the public health call line at 910-253-2339. When prompted, select the option for vaccine information to schedule an appointment.

In Pender County, vaccinations for Phase 1B individuals have already begun. Seniors aged 75 and older can schedule appointments on Tuesdays in Burgaw and on Thursdays in the Hampstead Annex as long as supplies last. 

Call 910-259-1230 to schedule an appointment with Pender County public health officials.

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