Eventually everyone who wants a COVID-19 vaccine will be able to get one.
Right now, the demand for currently available vaccines outweighs supply. UNC Health follows the vaccine distribution guidance released by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) to determine who is eligible for vaccination.
Here’s how UNC Health determines how many eligible people it can vaccinate.
Federal Government Decides How Much Vaccine Each State Receives
Each week, the federal government lets states know how much vaccine supply it will give them for the next week.
“The federal government allocates vaccine to each state on a weekly basis based on population,” says Mark Lyons, interim vice president of pharmacy for UNC Health and executive director of integrated pharmacy supply management.
Each state then reviews the allocation they are going to receive.
“They then divide it up based on county population for one portion and by age and percentage of underserved population for another portion,” Lyons says.
Until recently, UNC Health knew how much supply it would have for one week. Now, it receives information about the next three weeks of supply.
“Once we get the word of what our upcoming week’s allocation is going to be, we start looking at how we can build out schedules all across the state to accommodate the amount that we have,” Lyons says.
UNC Health Reaching The Underserved
Because vaccine appointments are usually made online and not everyone has Internet access or transportation to get vaccines, UNC Health is reserving some vaccine appointments for community outreach efforts in poorly reached or underserved communities.
“We are working with local communities to make sure that we are able to reach as many patients as possible who are eligible to have a vaccine,” Lyons says.
Second Doses Have Been Reserved for Those Scheduled to Receive Them
Although vaccine supplies are limited, UNC Health vaccine sites coordinate and work to maintain the appropriate supply for each week for second doses.
“We have robust analytics that we are constantly running to make sure that we have enough supply on hand to fulfill those second doses,” Lyons says.
No Vaccines Are Wasted
Occasionally, a patient will need to cancel or reschedule their vaccination appointment, and another patient must be scheduled to avoid wasting vaccine. UNC Health is able to reschedule existing patients to ensure that no dose is wasted.
“We constantly watch our waste rate,” Lyons says, “And we’re very pleased with how low it’s been so far.” UNC Health’s waste rate is very low – less than one percent.
Check Back Here for Updates on Vaccine Availability
As part of its mission to improve the health and well being of North Carolinians, UNC Health is committed to health equity and enabling everyone to receive a vaccine. UNC Health will post all vaccine-related information here, so check back for updates.
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