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Local health officials look forward to federal aid under Biden Administration

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As North Carolina celebrated the half-a-million COVID-19 vaccine doses being administered by Thursday, Jan. 21, Haywood County health officials came together Thursday to administer the vaccine to those eligible in Day 1 of a two-day drive-thru clinic at Haywood County Fairgrounds. (Photo credit: WLOS Staff)

As of Thursday more than half a million COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered in North Carolina through health departments, hospitals and local partners.

Drivers 65-year-and older piled into the Haywood County Fairgrounds Thursday, Jan. 21, to receive their first round of vaccine.

Haywood County Health Department Interim Director Garron Bradish said officials are aiming to administer 1,600 doses during the health department's two-day vaccination clinic, with help from nurses, local law enforcement, emergency management services and firefighters.

"We are looking at how we can sustain doing these drive-thru clinics. It takes a lot of effort from public health, emergency management and law enforcement to be able to put it on," Bradish said.

On his first full day in office, President Joe Biden took executive actions to expand testing and assist states in the vaccination process.

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“We are very much looking forward to an additional package to assist our state in response and recovery from COVID," DHHS Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen said during Thursday's statewide COVID-19 press conference.

Cohen said staffing at clinics across the state continues to be an issue.

“I’ve heard a couple of very good positive movements forward from the federal government," Cohen said. "They are committing more dollars and personnel to helping states and we certainly welcome coordinating with them. They are moving forward with allowing higher reimbursement rate for the work that we are doing, the people, resources that we are using."

Bradish said any additional help would alleviate strain on county staff.

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"It takes away from other duties that they need to be able to perform," Bradish said of county staff helping with clinics. "We have to look at how we stage these things and plan out in the future and how we can bring in other resources to keep this going."

The state says it has also been able to share feedback and concerns with the federal government about better communicating efforts regarding vaccine shipments.

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