Questions about the vaccine in Burke County have poured into The News Herald so reporters consulted with local health officials for some answers.
What’s the hold up?
“We have limited amounts of vaccine that come in,” said Valerie Kelly, director of nursing for the Burke County Health Department. “When we get those, we do not hold onto those. We give those within the next week, week and a half, of receiving those, and we have days that we do it, and we’re going by the phases. We do everybody that we can, and we do not have any waste issues.”
According to information from the state, there have been 5,675 doses of the vaccine sent to Burke County — and that’s to various different providers. On Jan. 11, the state said it sent the Health Department 200 doses of the vaccine.
So far, 1,962 Burke County residents have gotten the first dose of the vaccine while 542 people have completed the vaccine series, according to the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services.
Why isn’t Burke getting more of the vaccine?
Distribution of the vaccine is determined at the state level, said Lisa Moore, public information officer for the Health Department. She said she wasn’t exactly sure how the state decided which counties would get certain amounts of the vaccine, but said she thought they tried to divide amounts of the vaccine up somewhat equally.
She said she's been told the distribution of the vaccine could be changed in the next couple of weeks, but said she wasn’t sure what those changes would look like.
If someone doesn’t show up for their appointment, what happens to their dose of the vaccine?
If someone can’t get vaccinated for whatever reason but his or her dose of the vaccine already has been prepped, Kelly said public health workers call others who are on the list to be vaccinated so that the vaccine doesn’t go to waste, no matter how late employees have to stay at work.
“We do not waste any vaccine, and we give all that we have,” Kelly said. “We are not holding any.”
How do I sign up for a vaccine?
To schedule an appointment to get the vaccine, call 828-385-4454, Monday through Wednesday, from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Carolinas HealthCare System Blue Ridge will be scheduling appointments for community members as doses of the vaccine become available.
Many have expressed frustrations and concerns that they aren’t able to get signed up for the vaccine, but Kelly asked people to be patient and keep trying.
“Just continue to try,” Kelly said. “Listen to when the phases are and which phase you might fall into, and if you have issues about which phase you fall into, you can call the Health Department and say ‘which phase do you fall into?’ We’ll ask you some questions, and then we’ll tell you which phase that you would fall into so that you can know what phase to listen to.”
Who is giving out vaccines?
The hospital is receiving more of the vaccine, Moore said, so it has been setting up clinics to vaccinate most of those who are 75 years old and older. The Health Department has been providing some staff resources for those clinics, she said.
Since the Health Department has been getting smaller amounts of the vaccine, it has been administering vaccines to those who couldn’t get in with the community clinic, along with covering health care workers and long-term care facilities who did not get vaccinated through CVS and Walgreens, Moore said.
CVS and Walgreens only are vaccinating at places like nursing homes, or those who have pre-registered through the federal government, Moore said.
What’s up with the orange or blue caps on syringes?
Some have assumed that orange, blue or various other colors of caps on syringes are some kind of stopper to keep someone from getting injected with the vaccine.
That is not true.
Kelly explained the caps are an attachment, called a slide glide, on the syringe that in no way inhibits the plunger or delivery of the vaccine.
Instead, nurses and other medical care providers use the slide glides over the syringes to keep from poking themselves before and after administering the vaccine. Just like a pen cap, it pops over the needle of the syringe and can be popped off to administer the vaccine.
Another syringe that has raised eyebrows and, in some cases, caused conspiracy theories to fly, also is designed to protect people from getting stuck with the needle unintentionally.
“Some of the syringes they send out are called vanish point,” Kelly said. “You draw your medicine up in it, your needle is there on the end. When you give it, before you pull your (syringe) out, you put a little bit of extra pressure on the syringe plunger. … When you do that, it sucks the needle back into the syringe itself so you are not getting poked or have the possibility of getting poked.”
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