It’s difficult to find anyone who is pleased with the COVID-19 vaccine distribution program in North Carolina.
Even those who have managed to get vaccinated have complained about the jammed phone lines and long waits.
And now you can add the North Carolina state legislature to the long list of the disgruntled.
The huge difference between the legislature and everyone else in the state is that the legislature may be able to do something about it.
Tuesday, Jan. 12, legislators held a hearing and asked the administration of Gov. Roy Cooper for some answers.
According to Bloomberg, North Carolina has only distributed 25.8 percent of the vaccine allocated to the state by the federal government and that ranks North Carolina 48th in the country in vaccine distribution. The poor distribution in the state is of particular concern since reports are that future vaccine allocations from the federal government may be based on the state’s performance in actually vaccinating people.
Lawmakers honed in on the fact that the distribution plan relies almost entirely on the counties, despite the lesson the Cooper administration supposedly learned when it distributed hurricane relief. In 2019, the director of emergency management for the Cooper administration said, “We have learned from experience that many local governments lack the staff expertise and capacity to administer [disaster relief].”
Secretary of the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services Dr. Mandy Cohen pointed the finger at the federal government’s changing guidelines. What Cohen didn’t mention is that those are only guidelines and the ultimate authority to decide how the vaccine is distributed in North Carolina is Cohen herself.
Sen. Jim Burgin (R-Harnet) said, “I support our health departments and want them to succeed. We need one person in charge making decisions and sticking with them. This isn’t up to the federal government, and counties aren’t equipped to handle the task. The state executive branch needs to take the reins, make tough calls, and move forward.”
Sen. Joyce Krawiec (R-Forsyth), said, “The administration had ten months to draft and refine a plan to distribute a vaccine that everybody in he world knew was in development, but they didn’t even effectively plan for something as simple as what to do when too many people call asking to schedule their vaccination. The status quo is completely unacceptable, and the failure of the county-centric model was know before planning even began.”
It may be some small consolation to know that the problems people are experiencing in Guilford County are not unique to the county but are similar to problems being experienced across the state.