Local News

Computer issues, not enough time caused delays in Durham vaccination rollout

Posted January 12, 2021 5:46 p.m. EST

— On Tuesday, Durham County Health Director Rodney Jenkins explained why it will take another week before the county is ready to distribute the COVID-19 vaccine to the next group of people – those 75 and older, or Phase 1B.

Jenkins said the county will move into Phase 1B on Jan. 19, the same day as Wake County. He acknowledged "bottlenecks" are slowing down vaccine administration.

"The simple answer is my staff needed more time," explained Jenkins.

He added that computer issues also contributed to the delay.

"The COVID vaccine management system has been a challenge," Jenkins said. "This has led us to utilize paper forms at times. It has reduced our ability to move individuals through the entire vaccination process in a timely manner.”

While Durham seniors can't get the vaccine from the county health department yet, they are able to receive it from Duke Health.

Ida Page, a 71-year-old Durham resident, said she is not too concerned about the pace of the vaccine rollout, but when it is her turn, she will roll up her sleeve.

"Hopefully, I won't be afraid every time I go out because a lot of people don't wear a mask. I think it would give me some type of protection," Page said.

Data from the state Department of Health and Human Services showed as of last Friday, more than half of the Moderna vaccine shipment Durham County got in December remained on the shelves. That means, on average, the health department vaccinated between 43 and 54 people a day.

Jenkins said that he thanks people in Durham for their patience.

"We beg [for] your patience, and we're thankful for your patience," he added.

Jenkins said the health department staff has been "working around the clock" to be careful and methodical in administering the COVID vaccine.

"There is always room for improvement, and I am confident we will be successful," he said.

Jenkins added that he expects to enter Phase 2 in mid-March, which makes the vaccine available for adults at high-risk for exposure and at increased risk of severe illness.

For other groups, he hopes to vaccinate them in the summer.

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