Durham residents will now be able to receive COVID-19 vaccinations
at various Walgreens locations across the county, but they’ll have to make an appointment.

On Friday, during a meeting of Durham’s Recovery and Renewal task force, Durham County health director Rodney Jenkins said the pharmacy chain will administer 100 vaccines per week at business locations throughout the county.

“We’re certainly happy about 1,100 vaccines,” Jenkins said.

Vaccine supplies are limited globally, nationally, and locally, Jenkins noted, and as a result, will affect the county’s ability to get it out to the community.

As the INDY reported earlier this week, a proposed “mega-site,” designed to administer tens of thousands of COVID-19 vaccines weekly, has been temporarily derailed due to a shortage of doses the county is receiving from the state.

The county’s public health department also announced it had paused new vaccine scheduling, but officials clarified it will administer first dose vaccines that were already scheduled to take place between February 1 through February 20.

“Nevertheless, we’re not deterred, we’re determined,” Jenkins said. “Particularly with communities of color, to ensure that they are able to make the right choice when it comes to vaccines.”

Katie Galbraith, co-chair of the task force and president of Duke Regional Hospital, lamented the vaccine shortages but applauded the piloting of vaccination “pop-up” sites.

On Tuesday, for instance, 150 people were vaccinated at a Latino Credit Union location in Durham. A second event took place Thursday at the Nehemiah Christian Center, where 70 more people were vaccinated.

“We’re hoping to do a couple of those a week if the supply allows,” she said.

Jenkins acknowledged that January “has not been good to Durham;” there have been 783 new positive cases reported this month, including new cases reported report in university settings. But that’s not unexpected with students returning to the classroom.

“Overall, by and large, they are doing extremely well,” he said.

Wendy Jacobs, co-chair of the Durham County commissioners board, said the county’s biggest challenge will be administering vaccinations to public school teachers and staffers beginning February 24, following the announcement from Gov. Roy Cooper this week that educators will be prioritized among frontline workers.  

Jenkins said the county’s cases are on the downswing, but health officials are still cognizant about variants of the virus. It’s important, he said, not to see the vaccine as a pass to go back to normal, but as a part of an overall effort to mitigate the virus, along with the three W’s. 

Jenkins said the vaccination process for the county’s educators will be “a daunting task.”

In addition to administering more than 5,200 vaccines to Durham Public Schools employees, county health officials in partnership with Duke Hospitals hope to vaccinate employees at private and charter schools, along with workers at licensed and independent daycare centers.

“We are going to do the very best that we can,” Jenkins said. “And we are going to remain optimistic.”

Follow Durham Staff Writer Thomasi McDonald on Twitter or send an email to tmcdonald@indyweek.com.

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