BARCO, N.C. (WAVY) — Virginia residents frustrated with the slow COVID-19 vaccine rollout commonwealth are finding luck when they travel south of the state line.
On Thursday, nearly 1,000 doses of the Moderna coronavirus vaccine were administered at a mass vaccination clinic at Maple Park in Currituck County, N.C.
Those working at the clinic said a decent amount of the people vaccinated didn’t call the state home.
One 10 On Your Side viewer emailed to say she booked her 87-year-old father an appointment through the Albemarle Regional Health Services (ARHS) after having no luck in Virginia Beach.
“Couldn’t get doctors to return a call. Didn’t have any availability. Signed him up last night, and he got his shot today in North Carolina,” the viewer said.
Ben Stikeleather, Currituck’s county manager, said those performing vaccinations have seen their fair share of people coming from Virginia with similar stories.
Up until this week, those who are either a healthcare worker or 65 years of age or older would not be turned away.
“Just rolling through, trying to give out as many vaccines as possible,” Stikeleather said.
However ARHS said it will move away from pre-registration and start announcing weekly clinics based on vaccination allocation to each county. These will be on a first-come-first-served basis and the line will be cut off when vaccines are exhausted.
“We greatly appreciate everyone’s patience and understanding as we continue to navigate the largest pandemic vaccination response in our nation’s history,” said ARHS Health Director R. Battle Betts, Jr., MPA. “Each week we are learning more about our capacity to respond to the need and demand regionwide and are adjusting our plans accordingly. We are beyond proud of our staff and county partners for their selfless acts, battling frigid temperatures and long hours to get vaccines into arms. Your grace and kindness is greatly appreciated.”
ARHS is overseeing the vaccination effort for Pasquotank, Perquimans, Bertie, Camden, Chowan, Currituck, Gates and Hertford counties.
You can check ARHS’ website for the latest on vaccine clinic dates and times.
While a spokesperson for ARHS told 10 On Your Side that “we ask that individuals only register for the county they reside in or received their shot in,” the groups vaccination webpage also mentions Gov. Roy Cooper’s (D-N.C.) directive to get the “vaccine into arms as quickly as possible.”
Demand for the vaccine in Virginia and elsewhere in North Carolina has been high, with private health care providers in Hampton Roads quickly seeing their appointment times filled up. Virginia is only getting just over 100,000 first doses a week, which isn’t expected to increase until March.
Thursday, North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen said the state is receiving roughly 120,000 doses a week from the federal government yet gave little detail into how they are divided by local health departments.
She reiterated that those with vaccines are encouraged to use their allotted supply up completely by each Monday.
“Our understanding is because it’s a federal vaccine, that the vaccine can be administered as well to the people of our region, not just here,” Stikeleather said. “It stretches our resources thin, but I mean, we’re happy the folks who come here are going to get a vaccine if they are eligible to get one in North Carolina.”