Vidant Health will begin taking appointments for a new mass COVID-19 vaccination site at 8 a.m. today, but 8,000 or more people already on a Pitt County waiting list will receive priority.
Vidant and the Pitt County Health Department announced that people eligible for the vaccine — currently anyone 65 or older in addition to health care providers and long-term care workers and residents — can visit vidanthealth.com/vaccinate starting at 8 a.m. to view appointment availability for the site, set to open Monday at the Greenville Convention Center. People who have a Vidant MyChart account also may log in to their account to make an appointment, a news release said.
“The online appointment scheduler is the fastest and most convenient way to view and schedule an appointment,” the release said. However, people who don’t have internet access or need special assistance may call 252-847-8000. Large call volumes may cause delays, so officials encouraged people to use the website.
Pitt County on Thursday closed registration for a vaccine waiting list it established last week. More than 8,000 people used the county website and phone lines to request an appointment when one was available.
A majority of the appointment slots in the initial phase at the convention center will be allocated for people on the waiting list, the release said. Anyone who has registered is encouraged to check their email regularly and answer calls from a phone number beginning with 252-902.
Providers will be contacting those people in the coming days to sign them up for a visit to the convention center, officials said in the release.
The site will be set up to administer 4,000 vaccines in a week’s time, officials said. It will operate seven days a week and serve anyone in eastern North Carolina, consistent with state and federal guidance.
Officials during a news conference on Thursday called the effort historic and asked for patience as they work to ensure everyone who wants a vaccination can have one.
“We are now pivoting to the largest mass vaccination effort in the history of our world, our country and our region,” Vidant CEO Michael Waldrum said. “We are starting something none of us in the country have ever done. I’m excited about that. All of this work is a collaborative effort among state officials, county, our partners at ECU, health departments and providers across all of our communities.”
While the mass site is expected to be a central distribution point in the region, the Vidant and the county health department already have vaccinated thousands.
Vidant reported Thursday it had vaccinated more than 6,700 team members and providers in the region as of Wednesday. More than 3,300 team members have received both doses, completing their vaccine series. The system also has administered the first dose of the vaccine to more than 1,500 eligible community members.
The county health department today is conducting the second of two vaccination days this week at which 460 community members were to receive their shots. It vaccinated another 230 people Jan. 11.
Community spread of the virus continues to be at critical levels locally and across the state. A total of 104 new cases were reported in Pitt County on Thursday while 7,187 were reported statewide.
Hospitalizations remained at high levels as well with 3,666 statewide and 203 in the Vidant system as of Wednesday. That’s down from a high of 3,992 statewide and 220 at Vidant.
Health officials expect the vaccine to become more easily available as supplies catch up with demand.
“This is such an exciting time. It is miraculous that we have two highly, highly effective vaccines that we are able to give people,” Waldrum said. “I’m so proud of our team members that are doing the work and the volunteers that are helping us. They understand we are in a historic time and how we come together and serve our community dictates how our community goes through this historic time.”