Are counties, hospitals in the Triangle ready to start vaccinating teachers, school staff next week?

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — Starting next Wednesday, Feb. 24, teachers, school staff and childcare providers in North Carolina can start getting the COVID-19 vaccine.

Wake County’s Health Department told CBS 17 earlier in the week that officials are finalizing plans when it comes to when and how those in group three will get the vaccine.

On Wednesday, CBS 17 went digging for answers to see how other counties and health care systems are preparing and if they will be ready.

“I am certainly hopeful that we will be able to start next week, but I can’t absolutely guarantee that. I wish I could,” said Katie Galbraith, President, Duke Regional Hospital.

Galbraith admitted she wasn’t 100 percent sure if Duke Health and the hospital would be ready next week.

However, she did say they met with the Durham County Department of Public Health and Durham Public Schools regarding a plan.

“The reality is is that as exciting as we are to be able to move towards vaccinating this next group we still have a tremendous number of people in the 65-plus age group,” Galbraith explained.

“But we are prepared. The biggest challenge right now that is facing all of us is the lack of vaccine supply,” she stated.

In partnership with Durham County, she said the goal is to vaccine roughly a thousand school personnel weekly.

As for Granville Vance Public Health, it’s a different story.

“Starting Wednesday, Feb. 24, we already have plans in place to hold a clinic to ensure we have some groups of educators and school staff,” said Lisa Macon Harrison, Granville Vance Public Health Director.

She mentioned the demand for group one and two is slightly tapering off and the goal is to vaccinate between 100-200 people in group three with each clinic.

The Cumberland County Department of Public Health told us it’s pausing to accept first dose appointment requests until Monday to prepare for group three.

This pause will allow vaccination clinics to administer time-sensitive second dose vaccinations to those in the most vulnerable groups one and two. Cumberland County has around 2,700 individuals in groups one and two who are waiting for their second dose, according to a press release Wednesday.

“We are scheduling several weeks out already. We are opening availability to those individuals however, they may not be able to get an appointment right away,” said Dr. Jennifer Green, Cumberland Public Health Director.

She said she hopes the county can start group three next Wednesday, but that they are still scheduling people in group one and two into early March.

Orange County said in an email, “we have reached out to the school systems and are asking them to identify the staff eligible to receive the vaccine. Unfortunately, we still have thousands of people in groups one or two on or list that have not been vaccinated, and the state has not provided us any vaccine shipments earmarked for the teachers and childcare workers group.”

The Johnston County Health Department said it is in discussions regarding moving into the next group. However, any events for next week will be dependent upon the delivery of the vaccine.

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