Buncombe County has set up a large-scale vaccination site at A.C. Reynolds High School. The drive-thru COVID-19 clinic is designated for second-dose recipients.
Public health leaders consider the East Asheville clinic a framework for fast COVID-19 vaccinations in the months ahead. Health care providers can accommodate 5,000 vaccine shots per week. Buncombe County, however, is only receiving 975 doses from the state weekly.
State Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Mandy Cohen Dr. Mandy Cohen said creating fast vaccine plans despite short supply is on target with the state health department’s guidance.
“We want all our providers to be at the ready to turn that capacity backup if we are to get more vaccine,” Cohen said.
Meanwhile, state health officials are trying to show the federal government that North Carolina can push out vaccines just as quickly as the doses are received.
“We are making our strongest statement to the federal government that we can take on more vaccine, and we need more vaccine," Cohen said.
The state is accomplishing that goal, in part, by coordinating mass vaccination events like the one at the Charlotte Motor Speedway, where 16,000 people received a COVID-19 shot. Cohen said she understands that the speedway event and similar planned mass vaccination events limit vaccine supply for county health departments.
She said NCDHHS is fine-tuning its plan to make the impact more equitable across the state.
Buncombe County Emergency Preparedness Coordinator Fletcher Tove said he’s confident and hopeful the state department will soon increase the county’s shipment. At the current rate, it will take eight full months to vaccinate the 32,000 health care workers and people over 65 on the current waitlist.