OXFORD — Granville-Vance Public Health officials say they’ll begin offering COVID-19 vaccinations to people age 75 and up on Thursday, Jan. 14.
People in that age group who want the first of two shots have to sign up in advance and make an appointment to receive it. The health department will begin taking calls from them on Monday, Jan. 11, and has set up a “vaccine information hotline” at 252-295-1503.
Officials say would-be recipients should also check on the department’s web site, https://gvph.org/covidvaccines, for instructions on how to make the appointment process go faster.
But there’s no point to jumping the gun this weekend.
“We will provide more information the week of Jan. 11 about how to register in the mandatory statewide COVID Vaccine Management System (CVMS),” they said in a new release from Granville-Vance Public Health Director Lisa Harrison. There is a survey everyone must fill out as part of registration and the system is not accessible to individuals at this time.”
The department — which has a supply of the vaccine developed by the Moderna pharmaceutical company — has clinics in both Vance and Granville counties. Its vaccination plan mirrors the state’s, which to date has focused on making sure the shots are available to health-care workers involved in treating COVID-19 patients, and on the staff and residents of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities.
That “Phase 1a” of the plan continues, and the health department continues “reaching out to eligible health care organizations and individuals with additional instructions to sign up for vaccination,” officials said.
The move to begin vaccinating those age 75 and older means that the department is ready to begin “Phase 1b” of the effort. The elderly are in “Group 1” of that phase, ahead of the “Group 2” health-care workers and “essential frontline workers” who are age 50 and up, and of the “Group 3” that includes all other health-care and frontline workers of whatever age.
Harrison’s department estimates that it will take “through the month of March to make good progress in all the groups within these first two phases,” as “all states have limited vaccine right now and we cannot get vaccine to everyone at once.”
The health department’s announcement came after the Granville Health System that it intends to begin vaccinating people age 75 and above the week of Jan. 11. Granville Health has a supply of another vaccine variant, the one developed by Pfizer Inc.
Local officials are stressing they “do not have control over how much vaccine comes to us,” and that the rollout “will be a months-long process.”
Supplies are tight in part because federal officials have been holding back what The Associated Press termed “millions of doses” to ensure that there are enough for recipients of either the Moderna or Pfizer variants to get the second shot that secures the vaccine’s full effectiveness.
President-elect Joe Biden’s staff on Friday said the incoming administration supports releasing those doses immediately, to accelerate the pace of the vaccination effort, the AP reported.
Federal law gives presidents the authority to order industry to speed production of goods critical to national security, so they believe it’s possible to make sure there’s enough of the vaccines in the pipeline to handle the second round of shots.
Former Food and Drug Administration head Mark McClellan — who now heads a health-policy center at Duke University — said he agrees with Biden’s decision, but the increased supply of vaccines has to be coupled with steps to get shots actually administered to people.
“We’re holding back more doses than we really need to,” McClellan said in an interview with the AP. But “this needs to be combined with steps to increase the administration of vaccines, or it won’t make much difference.”
Meanwhile, the coronavirus continues to extract a toll locally.
Granville-Vance Public Health reported Thursday evening that it had learned of the deaths of two more residents of Granville County that happened because of COVID-19. Both lived in the Toney Rest Home assisted-living facility. One was an 89-year-old man who died on Dec. 16. The other was a 77-year-old woman who died on Dec. 16.
The COVID-19 death toll in Granville County now stands at 67 people, a figure that includes 22 of the 27 inmates of the Butner federal prison who’ve died because of the infection. Another 69 people have died because of COVID-19 in Vance County.
The N.C. Department of Health and Human Services reported Friday that there have been 11 deaths from COVID-19 of Warren County residents, and 39 of Franklin County residents.
There are virus outbreaks at three Henderson-area nursing homes, and at an assortment of facilities in Granville County.
Federal Bureau of Prisons figures indicate that the outbreak at the Butner prison, the region’s largest and most deadly, is once again on the rise, with 114 inmates and 20 staff members having active cases of COVID-19.
Contact Ray Gronberg at email@example.com or by phone at 252-436-2850.