Friday, April 19, 2024

New Hanover County sees uptick in vaccine supply, working with Novant to schedule events

After weather delays, New Hanover County received a backlog of doses from last week as well as a hefty shipment for this week. Teacher vaccinations begin Wednesday. (Port City Daily/Courtesy New Hanover County)

NEW HANOVER COUNTY — Following a week in which extreme weather disrupted the Covid-19 vaccine shipping process, New Hanover County received substantially more vaccines from the state than in recent weeks. The surplus includes 1,000 doses that should have arrived last week.

As many as 2,340 doses of the Pfizer vaccine will be used to schedule appointments this week in the county. Federal guidelines have shifted, and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention now advises that six, not five, doses can be pulled from a Pfizer vial.

The county received 1,800 doses of the Moderna vaccine on Monday. The backlogged doses held up by the weather accounted for 1,000 of those — 500 remaining doses were used already Monday during an outreach event at Sanctuary of Wilmington.

“Public Health learned mid-week last week that our Moderna shipment would not be delivered as planned, but we had been notified of this possibility the Friday before — so it was not a surprise,” a county spokesperson said in an email.

To compensate for the weather delays, the spokesperson said the county utilized a shipment of 1,950 Pfizer vaccines for appointments scheduled last week and this Tuesday. That shipment was earmarked as second doses, corresponding to doses delivered weeks ago that had been transferred to “a collaborative healthcare provider.” The provider had already split the original shipment into first and second doses, the spokesperson said, which freed up the later shipment. 

A few weeks after vaccine providers receive shipments slated for first doses, they receive a duplicated delivery from which to vaccinate individuals for the second time. The shots themselves are the same substance, regardless of whether they’re scheduled for either first or second doses. 

“This actually ended up working out in our favor because we were able to use those 1,950 doses for second-dose appointments, as well as to open appointments last week for groups 1 and 2, when we otherwise would not have been able to due to the delayed shipments,” the county spokesperson said. 

No second dose appointments were impacted by the weather last week, the spokesperson added.

Cape Fear Clinic, a free clinic that serves underinsured and uninsured patients in the southeast region, previously has received small transfers of New Hanover County’s vaccine supply. For the first time this week, the clinic received 100 doses directly from state allocations. 

M. Kent Locklear, the chief medical officer for Cape Fear Clinic, said the 100-dose direct shipments have been guaranteed for three weeks. Not having to rely on the doses of other providers being rerouted to the clinic, Locklear said there’s excitement about the independence that the new setup provides. 

“I’ve definitely felt a shift in momentum in a positive direction,” he said.

According to a New Hanover Regional Medical Center spokesperson, the hospital received 2,340 Pfizer doses the week — its baseline allotment, following the logistical increase in the size of Pfizer vials — as well as 200 Moderna doses received for “equity” purposes. (The county also received 300 Moderna doses this week designated for equitable distribution). 

Novant Health took ownership of the hospital at the beginning of this month, and a memorandum of understanding has been drafted between the company and New Hanover County, designed to promote collaboration in vaccination events. 

“County and [Novant Health NHRMC] desire to collaborate and provide mutual support in conducting one or more mass vaccination events to be held from time to time for the purposes of administering COVID-19 vaccines to the public,” according to the memorandum. 

The hospital spokesperson said the goal of the agreement is to combine resources to boost vaccine access. 

“New Hanover County Public Health and NHRMC are partnering on a joint effort to begin vaccinating PreK-12 and childcare staff from the county’s public, private, and charter schools and child care facilities beginning with a vaccine event on Wednesday,” the spokesperson wrote in an email.

Read More: One-third of New Hanover County PreK-12, childcare workers to receive Covid-19 vaccines Wednesday

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