In response to widespread outcry over the way that COVID-19 vaccinations in North Carolina are being handled, state health leaders are offering explanations, sympathy and the cold, hard, ugly numbers to those who want them.

By Sunday, Jan. 24, about 88 percent of all first doses on hand in the state of North Carolina had been administered.  The public and private providers across the state have reported administering over 260,000 doses in the past week.

State officials want to keep the vaccine flying out of storage and into arms because they’re worried the state may get less supply if not all of it is used quickly.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) currently ranks North Carolina 10th in total vaccines administered and 29th in vaccines administered per 100,000 people.

On Wednesday, Jan. 27, North Carolina will only have 120,000 doses to allocate for the state, which has a population of over 10 million. According to state health officials, those doses are already committed to large-scale events planned several weeks ago to address the backlog in vaccine.

“As a result,” a Monday press release from the NC Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) stated that many providers are getting “small or no allocations for the coming weeks.”  It added, “Through no fault of their own, they will be postponing appointments.”

NCDHHS Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen stated that it’s not going to be easy.

“As long as we are getting such a small amount of vaccine as a state, there are going to be challenges and shortages as we try to ensure equitable access to vaccine, while getting shots into arms quickly,” she said. “We understand this is hard for providers who are doing everything right.”

The press release also stated that, this week, the state will be sharing “more detailed guidance on the process for allocations for the coming weeks to ensure more transparency and certainty now that the state has largely exhausted the backlog of vaccine supply.”