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Toe River Health District’s Coronavirus Vaccine Supply Depleted: Eagerly Awaits Second Allotment

By Tim Gardner

There have been 6,675 individuals inoculated with the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Moderna vaccine first dose combined in the Toe River Health District and North Carolina High Country counties of Avery, Mitchell and Yancey during the past two weeks. Those include persons ages 75 and up as well as medical professionals, law enforcement and other essential workers during the first week and then last week of ages 65 and up.

There was to be three-day inoculation clinics in each of those counties for those in the latter age group again this week. However, those clinics were cancelled due to supplies running out in each county.

The Toe River Health District announced that as of the end of last week (January 22), there are no more scheduled days for administering the COVID-19 Moderna vaccine first dose. Health District officials and health departments in Avery, Mitchell and Yancey counties are awaiting an update from the State Department of Health and Services related to its next vaccine shipment. Then more clinics will be held and those eligible for vaccination can receive it.

The Toe River Health District has been assured by the State Department of Health and Human Services that their counties will receive Coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine for the next three weeks at a reduced level.

According to the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, the leadership at the state level made a miscalculation and committed the majority of the COVID-19 vaccines to mass events in large metropolitan areas across the state.

As a result, there will likely not be enough vaccine to warrant special inoculation events in Avery, Mitchell and Yancey counties for a few weeks, according to Toe River Health District officials. But vaccines will be available on a limited basis.

The state has advised the Toe River Health District and Emergency Management Coordinators and Health Department Directors in their respective counties that they will not receive as much of an allotment of the first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine as originally projected.

If you received your first dose of the vaccine and are concerned about the availability of the second dose, Toe River Health District officials wish to remind those who took the first inoculation that second doses can only be given as second doses. Therefore, there’s no reason for concern that they will be used up when it’s your turn for your second dose.

Toe River Health District Director Diane Creek declared the initial rounds of inoculations a success in combat the potentially deadly COVID-19.

“The mass vaccination clinics that have been held enabled us to vaccinate thousands of senior citizens and law enforcement officers, critical county employees and frontline health workers,” she said. “The clinics have been smoothly run, which is a credit to the teamwork of everyone involved in helping organize and operate these events. We will continue vaccinating as many people as possible in a safe and fast manner.”

Creek also noted that the Toe River Health District and its health departments in Avery, Mitchell and Yancey counties are committed to providing updates and guidance to make sure that everyone who wants to be vaccinated will have their opportunity.

“Please be patient and kind as we wait together (for another vaccine supply),” she said. “We greatly appreciate all the support and cooperation (the health district) receives during this time. We will get you a vaccine as soon as possible. That is a promise.”

To learn more about COVID-19 vaccines and the prioritization goals visit: https://covid19.ncdhhs.gov/vaccines

Creek noted that the Toe River Health District has only the Moderna vaccine (not the Pfizer vaccine) available. Two does—one month apart-of the Moderna vaccine is needed, healthcare professionals mandate.

Tested, safe and effective. More than 70,000 people volunteered in clinical trials for two vaccines (Pfizer and Moderna) to see if they are safe and work to prevent COVID illness. Volunteers included Black/African American, Hispanic/LatinX, Asians and others. To date, the vaccines are 95 percent effective in preventing COVID-19 with no serious safety concerns noted in the clinical trials. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) makes sure the vaccines are safe and can prevent people from getting COVID-19. Like all drugs, vaccine safety continues to be monitored after they are in use.

State healthcare officials also noted that the vaccine remains in limited supply, but a more abundant supply is expected in the near future, according to various media reports. North Carolina is currently receiving about 120,000 new doses of the vaccines a week.

A federal program, run through drug store chains CVS and Walgreens, has begun inoculating residents and employees of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities, including those in the Toe River Health District, Creek said.

Emphasized points by the Toe River Health District and Avery, Mitchell and Yancey County Health Departments about the COVID-19 vaccine, include:

The vaccine is tested, safe, and effective.

You cannot get COVID-19 from the vaccine.

There will remain in limited availability for weeks and become widely available over time.

The vaccine will be provided free of charge to everyone who wants it.

Two doses are needed for maximum immunity.

There is no vaccine mandate.

More information about COVID-19 and the Toe River Health District can be obtained by calling its local health departments, depending on which of those counties in which you reside or where you plan to be inoculated:

Avery Co. Health Department (828)-733-6031

Mitchell Co. Health Department (828)-688-2371

Yancey Co. Health Department (828)-682-6118.