3,000 on wait list for vaccine

  • Photo/Macon County Public Health Macon - County EMT Joey Gibson receives his first dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine from Jennifer Garrett, the county’s director of nursing.
    Photo/Macon County Public Health Macon - County EMT Joey Gibson receives his first dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine from Jennifer Garrett, the county’s director of nursing.

A shortage of COVID-19 vaccine doses has forced Macon County Public Health to reschedule vaccination appointments. 

With more than 3,000 Macon County residents on a vaccination waiting list, the county is scheduled to receive just 300 doses per week from the state over the next three weeks.

“The base allocation of 300 doses doesn’t even come close to the requests that we’re getting,” said MCPH executive director Kathy McGaha.

The allocation from the state to counties is based on population size. Clay County is scheduled to receive 100 doses per week, while Jackson County will get 400 per week. 

“Those who have already scheduled appointments for their first dose of vaccine have been moved to the front of Macon County Public Health’s vaccine wait list,” MCPH said in a statement. “Macon County Public Health will contact those on the waitlist as vaccine becomes available to reschedule your appointment.”

“We’re working to make sure that someone who registered earlier is at the top of wait list,” McGaha said.

As of Monday, Feb. 1, the NC Department of Health and Human Services reported that North Carolina had received 1,182,175 of the 1,421,475 doses allocated by the federal government, and that 81 percent of those doses had been administered.

Vaccinations underway at long-term care facilities

The first round of vaccinations at the nation’s long-term care facilities is complete, and second doses are now being given, according to CVS/Walgreens, which is administering the program. 

“We had our second round of vaccines yesterday,” Herb Sherlin, executive director at Franklin House, said on Monday, Feb. 1. “We had our first COVID vaccines on Jan. 3.”

Two residents declined to be vaccinated, Sherlin said. More than 80 percent of staff members got the vaccination.

McGaha stressed that vaccines administered to about 400 people at a Jan. 20 clinic in Highlands did not come from the county’s allotment of doses. Those doses came from HCA/Mission and Pardee UNC Health Care. Mission Health donated 500 doses to MCPH to support the Highlands-Cashiers clinic, according to spokeswoman Nancy Lindell. 

“We’re working with them to be a vehicle,” McGaha said. “We’re not giving up any doses that we have in Franklin to support that clinic.”

MCPH is prepared to conduct a mass clinic in Franklin when the supply of vaccine doses makes it feasible.

“We’re looking at a mass clinic here,” McGaha said. “We have the capacity to do that with our current setup.”

Meanwhile, Macon residents can register for the COVID-19 Vaccine Wait List at https://gis2.maconnc.org/VAX/VAX.html. That link is on the right side of the county’s home page at maconnc.org. When the group you fall under is eligible for vaccination, a member of the COVID-19 Vaccine Call Center will contact you to schedule your appointment.
People in groups 1 and 2 on the state schedule – health care workers and long-term care staff and residents, and adults over the age of 65 – are currently being vaccinated. Next in line will be Group 3, which includes frontline essential workers, described as those who are in sectors essential to the functioning of society. Group 4 includes adults at high risk for exposure and increased risk of severe illness such as public safety and transportation officials. Group 5 will make vaccinations available to anyone who wants them.

People who need to register or schedule an appointment for a COVID-19 vaccination should call 828-524-1500. Those wanting to schedule testing should call 828-349-2517. The call center is operating Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

As of Monday, Feb. 1, MCPH reported a total of 2,719 COVID cases in the county since the pandemic began, including 528 current active positive cases, 2,173 recovered and 18 deaths.
“The requests for testing and the growth of cases are going down. Fingers crossed,” McGaha said. 

As of 6:30 a.m. on Feb. 2, there are 124 lab-confirmed positive COVID-19 patients in the Mission Health system: 96 at Mission Hospital, eight at Angel Medical Center, three at Blue Ridge Regional Hospital, eight at Mission Hospital McDowell and nine at Transylvania Regional Hospital.