RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — On Friday, Wake County Public Health gave thousands of doses of vaccine to community pharmacies and doctor’s offices.
A lot of those doses were the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which is beneficial for smaller providers since it’s one shot and can be refrigerated.
“It’s just great to get started,” said Brent Talley, owner of Hayes Barton Pharmacy.
Talley’s one of 29 providers Wake County gave vaccine to. They plan to administer it to people in the community — both at his pharmacy and going to different sites, like schools and retirement homes.
“We’ve had people break down and cry over it just because they’re so relieved to get it. You’ve never seen anybody more relieved to get a vaccine ever,” said Talley.
Wake County Public Health is giving out more than 4,000 of their doses. The goal is to create more places for people to be able to get their shot.
“It’s not like there are additional doses coming into the county, we just want to increase the number of access points,” said Ryan Jury, mass vaccination branch director for Wake County. “This is not a capacity problem.”
The vaccine’s now going to doctor’s offices and pharmacists all over the county.
“Some people just have a comfort level of going to their own provider or going to their own pharmacy,” said Dr. Jason Whittes, Wake County Human Services pharmacy director.
Nick Holt’s taking a share to Health Smart Pharmacy in Wake Forest.
“It makes it easy, so people don’t necessarily have to go to the doctor, but they can just come get it directly from us,” said Holt. “Everybody’s just very grateful.”
There are thousands of people on Wake County Public Health’s waitlist hoping to get an appointment soon.
We’ve seen open appointments with different providers. Jury said an empty appointment doesn’t mean a vaccine is sitting on a shelf.
If an appointment is not filled, that dose can go to a different time slot or a different site, like PNC Arena.
We also found open appointments online in Raleigh at Walgreens for Monday. A Walgreens company spokesperson said if there are available doses, they’ll reach out to eligible customers to get them — adding the demand still outweighs the supply.
“Vaccine supply is improving, but we still do not have the kind of supply we need to get to everyone,” said Dr. Mandy Cohen with NCDHHS.
Dr. Cohen said the state could offer vaccine to everyone sooner than expected though.
“We were able to move up frontline essential workers a week, I’m hopeful that if we see our supply continuing to improve, we may be able to go sooner to the next group of folks,” said Cohen.
Right now, that next group is supposed to be eligible in about three weeks on the 24th. The state estimates 4 million people are in it.
More and more providers are getting on board to be ready for them.
“They’re chomping at the bit to get more vaccine,” said Whittes.