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Mecklenburg County health director asks for patience as 5,186 seniors scheduled vaccine appointments

"We want to make sure that when people come in, there's a vaccine available to them," Mecklenburg County Health Director Gibbie Harris said.

MECKLENBURG COUNTY, N.C. — Tuesday, 90 Charlotte-area seniors received COVID-19 vaccinations by Mecklenburg County Health due to some slots opening up, Health Director Gibbie Harris said. 

Hundreds more who are 75 years and older will be vaccinated Wednesday at Bojangles Coliseum as the health department rolls out a full day of vaccinating seniors.

Vaccinations for Phase 1B in North Carolina are expected to continue through the month, but logistics will be key. 

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Mecklenburg County's top health officials have been asking the community for patience in the coming days and weeks.

"We have limited access to the vaccine," Mecklenburg County Public Health Director Gibbie Harris said. "We want to make sure that when people come in, there's a vaccine available to them."

Some 5,186 seniors are scheduled for their first shots through January. It means Mecklenburg County Health is booked for the month. It's frustrating for many who did all they could to get an appointment.

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"When numbers don't work and websites don't work, where do we go from there," said Betty Tomlinson, who tried to schedule her appointment but had a hard time getting through. 

As vaccines continue to come in from the state, openings for vaccinations are expected to pop back up. 

County officials promised to let the public know so more seniors can schedule their vaccinations. 

Mecklenburg County has received nearly 3,000 doses and has administered 1,700 of them.

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But county commissioners questioned if the health department is logistically ready to serve seniors at Tuesday night's Board of County Commissioners meeting, the first one of the new year. 

"There's a population out there who are over 75 and who no longer drive or have access to transportation," Chairman George Dunlap pointed out.

"If they need it, we're working with DSS and others that provide transportation to seniors," Harris responded. 

The county is also reaching out to shelters to help homeless neighbors who are 75 years old and older to get their vaccines. 

There have also questions as to if more locations will pop up throughout the county to give access to the vaccine to all communities in the area. 

Harris said that's difficult for the time being because they aren't getting enough vaccines to do that, and due to special freezers being needed for the fragile vaccines, mass distribution will be difficult. 

Harris said several pharmacies and doctors' offices have applied to be a vaccine providers. As the state receives more vaccines and applications are approved, distribution could expand. 

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