GREENSBORO — Larger groups and extensive parking lots have, among other things, spurred adjustments in Guilford County’s COVID-19 vaccination clinics and a plea from health officials: Don’t arrive early.
“Please don't come early for that process,” Don Campbell, the county’s emergency services director, said Wednesday. “When individuals come 30 to 45 minutes prior to their appointment, that's really what starts to slow the process down, so please come at your appointment time.”
Campbell and Dr. Iulia Vann, director of the Guilford County health department, on Wednesday hosted the first in a series of news conferences to help get more information out about the vaccination clinics. Those clinics are expected to grow substantially as the vaccine supply increases and the state authorizes more groups of people to receive doses.
Currently, only health care workers directly caring for or working around COVID-19 patients or people 65 and older can receive the vaccinations in Guilford County.
As of Wednesday morning, Guilford County had received 6,800 doses of COVID-19 vaccine and had vaccinated 5,219 individuals.
The county is expected to receive an additional 2,650 doses this week from the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services, Vann said.
Cone Health also was delivering some of its vaccine to the county’s effort “so we can move these doses as fast as possible,” Vann said. “As we're ramping up the process and we receive more allocations, we anticipate that we'll be able to expand some of those appointments as well.”
The county is notified about the number of vaccinations it will receive for the following week on Fridays, making planning more difficult, Vann said.
“We are always in a one-week cycle," she said. "The planning has to be very detailed and very specific in order for us to move the doses as fast as possible, but with a very short period of time.”
The county is holding clinics at three locations: the Greensboro Coliseum Complex, Mount Zion Baptist Church in Greensboro and the High Point University Community Center at Oak Hollow Mall.
Officials reconfigured the clinic in High Point on Wednesday after the line extended outdoors during Tuesday’s event, Campbell said.
At the coliseum, where Cone Health also is holding vaccination clinics, he said officials made changes to ensure the lines were more clearly marked.
Golf carts and wheelchairs also were added to the mix, to help those with appointments negotiate the parking lots and lines.
Physical access isn’t the only focus for health officials.
“We're addressing, very intentionally, the historically marginalized populations to make sure that the access to the vaccine is equitable,” Vann said.
The county is tapping into the faith community to help reach people of color, which has been hit particularly hard by the coronavirus and many of whom are wary of vaccinations.
N.C. A&T, UNCG and the North Carolina National Guard also are helping out, “from testing to vaccines to contact tracing and case investigation,” Vann said.
Both Vann and Campbell said they have been encouraged by the overwhelming response to the vaccination clinics.
“There were many tears of joy yesterday for individuals who were just excited that they were getting their vaccination,” Campbell said.
Contact Kenwyn Caranna at 336-373-7082 and follow @kcaranna on Twitter.