Local News

Vaccines delayed by rain, but people won't have to wait for long

Posted February 18, 2021 10:21 a.m. EST
Updated February 18, 2021 5:26 p.m. EST

— Thousands of people will have to wait (again) for their COVID-19 vaccine after clinics across central North Carolina canceled events and appointments on Thursday.

But organizers assure, that wait won't be too long. In Wake, Durham, Orange, Person and Franklin counties, health department staff spent the rainy day calling patients to reschedule those appointments in the coming days.

There is no worry that those added appointments will back up others. Dr. David Wohl, an infectious disease specialist at UNC Health, said, “We can accommodate many more vaccinations per day than we are doing on most days.”

A few people who didn't get the message drove to PNC Arena in Raleigh on Thursday morning only to be turned away.

"I was excited to come here today," Ray Martin told WRAL News. "I'm going to keep trying, and hopefully I can get it real soon. The sooner it is in my body, the better."

Ken Rhein said, "I am disappointed I had to make the effort to get here. It has not soured me on the process too much.”

Appointments scheduled for Thursday at PNC Arena have been rescheduled for next Monday, Feb. 22. Anyone scheduled to get the shot Thursday who is not available to get vaccinated Monday should contact the COVID-19 call center at 919-250-1515.

A total of 4,300 shots are set to be administered at three PNC Arena events this week. Officials said 3,325 doses will come from the county health department's weekly allotment, with the other 975 coming from WakeMed's allotment.

The shots will be administered by appointment only, with county officials contacting people on the vaccination waiting list to assign them appointment times.

The threat of icy roads and delayed vaccine delivery due to inclement weather across the country closed clinics in counties across the area.

In Durham County, slow or limited delivery of vaccine pushed back a week's worth of appointments. Those with appointments originally set for Thursday through Feb. 24 at the public health department or Southern School of Energy and Sustainability (Southern High School) can expect to be contacted to reschedule.

Person County health officials were spending Thursday calling individuals whose vaccine appointments had been scheduled for Thursday or Friday to reschedule.

Vaccine clinics sponsored by UNC Health at the Friday Center in Chapel Hill and in Hillsborough were closed Thursday. Those with Thursday appointments will be able to reschedule for Friday or Saturday.

“It is a lot of people," said Dr. David Wohl, infectious disease specialist at UNC Health. "It is hundreds and hundreds of people who are scheduled on any one day.”

The decision to postpone, Wohl said, was safety-driven.

"You have to think hard about the safety of our people who are coming to get vaccinated and also our staff,” he said.

The freezing temperatures and delays are no threat to the effectiveness of the vaccine.

“If people are worried about power, we have generators that back up these freezers, so all the vaccines anyone would get is in a freezer right now,” Wohl said.

The Franklin County clinic at Triangle North Executive Airport in Louisburg is closed on Thursday. Those with appointments will be called to reschedule.

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