Guilford County staff has obviously been putting a great deal of time and effort into setting up a COVID-19 vaccination plan for county residents who are 75 and older, but they can’t change one simple fact.
There isn’t nearly enough vaccine for everyone who wants it. Starting on Friday, Jan. 8 at 8 a.m., those 75 and older began calling (336) 641-7944 to set up an appointment – but getting through was not – and will not be – easy since demand greatly outpaces supply.
That was the message from Guilford County Health Director Dr. Iulia Vann and Emergency Management Division Director Don Campbell at the Guilford County Board of Commissioners Thursday, Jan 7 meeting. There are over 40,000 people 75 or older in the county, and there are only 4,000 vaccine doses available for the week that starts on Monday, Jan. 11.
The county will have 13 phone lines taking calls to set up appointments and provide information about the vaccination program, but, before the calls began, nobody thought that would be nearly enough for the rush of calls expected Friday morning to set up appointments. It wasn’t and most callers could not get through to schedule a vaccination appointment.
Reports from other North Carolina counties who have also implemented similar programs show that callers may have 400 or 500 callers ahead of them – even more at certain times.
So, in Guilford too, it will be hard to get through for a long time.
“We do know that the population that wants a vaccine starting next week is greater than the doses that we have,” Campbell told the Board of Commissioners Thursday. Jan. 7. “There is no question about it. And we know that there will be more people who call tomorrow that will not be able to get a quick answer.”
The good news is that Guilford County expects to get in more doses of vaccine each week. Campbell said after the meeting that it was very difficult to guess how long it would be before vaccine supply caught up with demand.
There are currently two vaccines approved for use in the United States and the county will have some of each. The type of vaccine given to people will depend on what is available at that time.