The arrival of the Covid-19 vaccine to our county has been both a blessing and a challenge. And as Health Director, I feel it necessary to be as open to our dilemma as I can be.
You deserve to understand the issues we continue to face and the future obstacles we are preparing to encounter. The original expectations the county had planned for were momentarily setback after the vaccine began to be distributed. The change in vaccine priorities that came down from Federal and State authorities put a substantial burden on our ability to execute existing plans. A plan that required immediate adjustment to meet the number of eligible recipients. A number for Lincoln County that went from nearly 2,000 to nearly 18,000 people in just a matter of days. The problem was further complicated by the requirement to have any and all vaccine recipients registered into the Covid Vaccine Management System, or CVMS. A system that continues to have some connectivity issues, require additional training, and approved access for each user. The sudden demand for doses and CVMS registration quickly overloaded our call systems, our established manpower, and our initial plan of action. No plan, perfect or imperfect, will accommodate a 900% increase in expected output successfully, especially with no prior notice.
Lincoln County initially received 1,200 doses of Moderna vaccine, and then over the course of three weeks, we received 900 more doses. As projected by this Wednesday, the day each state will be measured against one another for vaccine distribution for Federal evaluation, we will have exhausted more than 1,900 doses through a combination of fixed appointments and drive thru clinics. The remaining allocation is already spoken for by appointments to priority groups Phase 1 and 2. We have received vaccine allotments each past week in the order of 400, 200, and 300 doses. For this week, we will receive no doses. As we administer doses, the allocations will dictate how we reduce appointments or increase appointment opportunity. Even to the possibility of temporarily suspending appointments to assure vaccine is available. Hopefully, we will receive another 400 or more doses next week and the weeks that follow. As evident, the amount of allocation is variable and continues to make forecasting manpower and vaccine availability difficult to consistently predict. Our ability to expand our vaccination efforts is primarily limited by vaccine supply and marginally limited by staff resources.
The effort to meet the sudden demand required quick readdress of existing capacity and the requisition of more resources. In combination with county Emergency Management and county management support, we were able to make several significant adjustments to our distribution plan to address the unexpected challenges in just a matter of days. I am proud of the county for recognizing the magnitude of the vaccine situation and our ability to pivot our capabilities to get vaccines into people and work towards improved communication. By this week, we will have vaccinated more than 10% of our highest priority populations through the local health department. This is around 2.3% of our total county population. Further, the county continues to evaluate options to administer more vaccine per day.
As a nation, we are taking on a task that has never been accomplished before. A demand that has not been created before in this field. And a position of delicate navigation around limited supply, registration burden, personnel engagement and more, all in a genuine effort to end the heavy toll this pandemic has placed upon everyone. Please continue to have patience as we work to vaccinate everyone who wants a vaccine. We care about the people of Lincoln County and are working steadily to get vaccine to everyone we can.
With limited vaccine supplies and limited appointment availabilities, consider more options to receive a vaccine. Be sure to check out http://yourspotyourshot.nc.gov/ to see the many places offering Covid-19 vaccine in your area. In addition, if you are eligible, but healthy and willing to hold off for a while longer, this can be a gracious measure to help everyone get the highest-risk people vaccinated in a judicious and effective manner.
Davin W. Madden, MHSA, REHS