Guilford County officials, local health providers and many people scheduled to get COVID-19 vaccinations this week were stunned and incensed to find out that thousands of vaccine doses from the state were taken away from Guilford County and sent to Charlotte.
Fred Gregory, an area senior citizen, said he was scheduled to be vaccinated on Monday, Feb. 1, but he then got an email telling him his appointment had been cancelled. The email gave him a number to call for more information.
“I was all set,” he said, adding that he called the number to Cone Health and heard a recorded message that informed him that vaccinations scheduled after Monday, Jan. 25 had been cancelled.
The message said those vaccinations scheduled for Monday would be given but all others after that are cancelled. The only exceptions are for those who are scheduled for their second vaccinations. (Area health officials are encouraging those scheduled for their second shot to keep their appointments.)
Guilford County Commissioner Justin Conrad said on Saturday, Jan. 23 that Guilford County’s doses were going to a mass vaccination event in Mecklenburg County.
“I have nothing against Mecklenburg County, but, dammit, I represent the people in Guilford County and this is playing politics with their lives,” Conrad said. “This is not fair.”
Conrad said he really doesn’t know what NC Governor Roy Cooper is thinking – given that there are a lot of people in Guilford County who are fearful for their lives and who have been counting on the vaccinations.
“Essentially, what Governor Cooper did was cut us out,” Conrad said, adding that only nine counties out of 100 in the state were getting their previously allocated doses.
Conrad said that it was his understanding, based on what he’d been told, that the decision was made in part due to a bizarre accounting method the state has begun using where the focus is entirely on what number of vaccines are on hand but that fails to account for the number of vaccines scheduled.
For instance, Conrad said, if a county has 4,000 doses on hand on Sunday, and those are already scheduled for injection on Monday and Tuesday, there are really no doses available since the ones on hand are already claimed. However, the state sees thousands in storage and thus cuts that county or health system out of the supply loop.
Conrad said that both Cone and Guilford County had been effectively getting the vaccine out to people in the community and it therefore made no sense to cut Guilford County off.
Conrad said he believes Cooper and other state officials need to be made aware that the citizens in Guilford County are extremely displeased with what seems to be a horrendously unfair decision. He said that might make the state think twice before doing this in the future.
“Here’s my question,” Conrad said. “Guilford County is the third largest county in North Carolina; Greensboro is the third largest city, and your telling me our number is zero.”