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Winter Weather Delays Shipment of COVID-19 Vaccines; This Week’s Appointments Rescheduled

Director of Public Health for AppHealthCare Jennifer Greene met online on Feb. 17 during a Keep Boone Healthy meeting to provide updates about the vaccine situation.

By Harley Nefe

There is an allocation of around 3,000 vaccines, including both Moderna and Pfizer shipments, that is coming to AppHealthCare; however, due to inclement weather, the vaccines have not arrived yet because of shipping delays. The shipments were scheduled to arrive earlier this week, but at this time, it is unknown when they will be received.

AppHealthCare will be reaching out to individuals directly to reschedule appointments for those who had vaccine appointments this week. This mostly affects those who were going to receive a first dose. 

AppHealthCare still has some second dose vaccines it can administer this week for those who already had appointments. They are still planning to have the mass vaccination event at Ashe County High School on Saturday for second doses only. 

The clinics AppHealthCare was planning to do on Friday and Saturday of this week with the partnership of Boone Drug and Samaritan’s Purse at Mt. Vernon Baptist Church has been rescheduled to next week — Friday, Feb. 26 and Saturday, Feb. 27.

“We apologize for the inconvenience this causes for those whose appointment has been rescheduled,” stated Jennifer Greene, Health Director of AppHealthCare. “We don’t like to reschedule appointments because we know how eager everyone is to receive their vaccine, but unfortunately this situation is out of our control due to weather and shipping delays. We hope to receive vaccines soon and will work diligently and efficiently to get shots in arms.”

Greene also met online on Feb. 17 during a Keep Boone Healthy meeting to provide further in-depth updates about the vaccine situation.

“We were very excited to get those vaccines, and then we learned that because of the weather situation across the country, they haven’t been shipped to us,” said Greene during the meeting. “We’re just going to back up, and we’re going to ask for people’s patience, reschedule things, bump it to next week and try to move forward.”

Greene further said, “I know it’s incredibly challenging to be excited for that first dose and then be asked to move things to next week. We’re really grateful to the volunteers and all the providers who are helping plan these mass clinics because it truly is taking all of us and putting our staff and teams in place to schedule and reschedule.”

On Feb. 10, Governor Roy Cooper and North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Mandy Cohen outlined a timeline for Group 3 frontline workers becoming eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, beginning with anyone working in child care or in PreK – 12 schools on Feb. 24.

However, AppHealthCare is still working on decreasing the number of Group 2 including 65 and older individuals who are eligible and waiting for the vaccine. 

“I am really proud about how far the progress we made is to date in getting the older adults and healthcare workers vaccinated,” Greene said.

While personnel wait for the vaccines to arrive, they are working to have a better awareness and an accurate understanding of how many people remain in the second group and how quickly they can help everyone.

In order to do so, Greene said they are comparing lists of eligible individuals and checking for duplicates of names across the lists.

“We know that there’s so much emotion in this whole movement to try to be vaccinated,” Greene said. “People are putting their names in lots of places, and so we’re going to start there.” 

AppHealthCare is also gathering a lot of information from childcare and school providers to have a better understanding of exactly how many people will have to be vaccinated in those groups. 

Greene said this information will help tell them if they have to break up vaccination clinics over a period of time or if they are able to vaccinate more, depending on the vaccines AppHealthCare receives. 

Speaking on the shipping delays, Greene added, “It’s certainly not what we wanted to have happened for the patients, but it’s what we have right now, and we’re going to work through it the best we can. Know that when it is time, and hopefully that’s next week, we’re going to have more people vaccinated and more people protected in our community.”