Wilson County becomes model for mass vaccinations
Posted January 27, 2021 8:25 p.m. EST
Raleigh, N.C. — Unlike some counties where vaccination efforts led to appointment scheduling difficulties and people turned away after waiting in long lines, Wilson County not only didn't send anyone home without a shot one day last week, officials actually asked more people to come out.
Wilson County has vaccinated nearly 4,400 people so far, but more than half of those shots were administered on Jan. 19.
Janice Bennett, 74, said she got her shot within 30 minutes at the county clinic that day.
"When I left there, I was so – I've never been as proud of Wilson, of living in Wilson, in my life," Bennett said Wednesday.
Coronavirus vaccinations in NC
County Emergency Management Director Gordon Dino said nearly 160 people from various county agencies, the school district plus even a private contractor worked the clinic, which had an initial target of 1,000 shots in a day.
"We had met that by around 11 a.m.," Dino said. "So the various agencies with the vaccine decided, 'Let's go ahead and do some more.'"
More vaccine was brought from Wilson Medical Center to the clinic, where 16 people were administering shots to four lines of people.
By the end of the day, 2,200 people had been vaccinated.
Several North Carolina counties have asked for details of Wilson County's clinic so they can copy its success, Dino said.
"Matter of fact," he said, "someone had requested it from another state."
"It's taken 25 years to build to this point, and that's because we have longevity in several departments within the county," he added. "People have worked together for years, so we know we can pick up the phone and call."
But the county can't replicate its successful clinic until more doses arrive. Officials also have stopped taking first-dose vaccination appointments for now.
"As we move forward, we do hope to have some more of what we did last Tuesday," Dino said. "That will depend on the flow of the vaccine coming into the state, and they're at the mercy of the federal government on that."
"To be able to pull something like that off and it run like it did, and me especially come away from there and not be a nervous wreck, I'm just proud," Bennett said.