Wednesday, May 25, 2022

County’s vaccination totals are higher than what state data indicate, spokesperson says

Residents wait at the New Hanover County Senior Resource Center for a Covid-19 vaccine. Although the state indicates around 23,000 first doses have been administered in the county, a spokesperson said that number is higher in reality. (Port City Daily/Courtesy of New Hanover County)

NEW HANOVER COUNTY — Delays in logging Covid-19 vaccinations have resulted in the actual total of county vaccinations being higher than the number currently reflected on the N.C. vaccine dashboard.

According to vaccine allocation totals obtained by Port City Daily, 33,925 combined first doses had been shipped to vaccine providers in New Hanover County — including the hospital and local health department, as well as a few hundred doses for Med North — prior to this week. At the same time, the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services dashboard indicated Monday only 22,399 first doses had been administered. 

Read More: As N.C. tries to maximize number of vaccinations, diverting doses to mass events still straining some counties [Free]

New Hanover County health officials previously stated the county has been successfully deploying virtually all of its doses in a timely manner. A county spokesperson wrote in an email: “It is our understanding that the state’s dashboard lags a little bit behind the current status of vaccine administration.”

Still, the state is aware of the situation; a county spokesperson said New Hanover Public Health is in constant communication with state officials, and “they are aware of delays from healthcare partners in entering data in [the Coronavirus Vaccine Management System].”

The CVMS is the state’s platform of choice for centrally logging vaccine administrations in North Carolina. All vaccine providers are required to use the system. 

The N.C. Watchdog Reporting Network reported many vaccine providers have expressed qualms with the system, which requires data in 21 fields and can take eight hours to upload 115 patients, according to a Cabarrus County Health Department spokesperson quoted in the report. 

“Healthcare entities must manually enter each person into the state’s system and — for some entities — that process takes longer than others,” the New Hanover County spokesperson wrote. “The county has worked evenings and weekends to try and get our vaccine administrations into the system as quickly as possible, but we understand that has created some difficulty for some partners to get vaccines entered in real time.”

According to the N.C. Watchdog report, entering one patient’s information can take about 8 minutes. 

Prior to this week, New Hanover County Public Health had received 19,100 first doses from the state. Of that supply, 8,290 doses went to its vaccination partners — Wilmington Health, MedNorth, Cape Fear Clinic and New Hanover Regional Medical Center. NHRMC also received thousands of first doses directly from the state.

(The same vaccine is used in both first and second doses, but some shipment amounts are reserved to ensure second doses are available. Both of the current vaccines require a second dose between three and four weeks after the first. About two weeks after the second dose, both vaccines have shown to protect 95% of the recipients against the coronavirus that causes Covid-19).

This week nearly 4,000 more first-dose shots arrived in New Hanover County: 2,650 went directly to the hospital; 1,000 to public health; and 300 to MedNorth Clinic, a federally qualified health center. 

Read More: New Hanover County Public Health will oversee 1,000 vaccines this week [Free]

After the state vowed to give counties a more lengthy heads-up regarding weekly allocations, New Hanover County was tagged with a 300-dose per week allocation to start, despite public health’s capacity to deliver thousands of shots per week. This week 700 additional vaccines came in the form of additional doses from the state.

NHRMC and New Hanover Public Health have intermittently opened the gates for the public to schedule vaccination appointments in recent weeks. The county divided this week’s as follows: 500 doses will serve appointments, while 450 will fuel outreach events and 50 doses are being transferred to Cape Fear Clinic. This week the county will schedule half of its appointments via phone, while the other half are scheduled through a new online portal option.

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