The Forsyth County Health Department will move its vaccination operations to the Winston-Salem Fairgrounds on Sunday, a move that should allow health officials to almost double their rate of vaccinations to 1,000 a day, health director Joshua Swift said.
By a unanimous vote, the Forsyth County Board of Commissioners on Thursday approved an agreement with the city of Winston-Salem to use the Education Building at the fairgrounds to dispense vaccinations for COVID-19.
Swift said vaccinations will go on at the fairgrounds from 8:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. daily starting Sunday, with vaccinations by appointment only.
The Health Department was fully booked on Thursday, although Friday should see new appointment slots opening up for vaccinations that would take place after Tuesday.
Shots are available to people 65 and older and to health care workers.
"We are at 500 per day, and we expect within three days to be at 1,000 per day," Swift said on Thursday. "We will double our rate."
Swift said people who get their vaccinations at the Education Building will come into the fairgrounds from Deacon Boulevard. Officials are working on getting directions and instructions out on social media.
"When I see people coming through, it is amazing to see how excited and happy people are to get the vaccine," Swift said, recounting what he sees at the Health Department building where vaccinations have been taking place.
Public Health vaccination appointments are made by visiting https://bit.ly/FCNCCovidVaccine.
Meanwhile, Wake Forest Baptist Health said patients between the ages of 65 and 74 can now make appointments to get COVID-19 vaccines.
Vaccines are by appointment only; no walk-ins will be accepted. Appointments can be made by calling 336-70-COVID, the system said Thursday.
The system is working on providing an online appointment-scheduling option.
Patients can get more details about vaccinations through their myWakeHealth accounts and at www.wakehealth.edu/vaccine.
The number of vaccinations available will depend on the system's allotment from the state.
"Based on the vaccine supply we receive from the state of North Carolina, it could take months to provide the two required doses for full vaccination with the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines to all of our patients," the system said. "We appreciate your patience."
Wake Forest Baptist and its parent company Atrium Health are also planning a mass-vaccination clinic in Winston-Salem. Details about that clinic have not yet been released.
About 10,000 Wake Forest Baptist employees have received their first vaccine dose and nearly 5,000 have received both doses.
The deal between the county and city for using the Education Building gives the county free use of the building, although the county would be responsible for reimbursing the city for actual costs.
Even that expense has a cap of $200,000. The county will have the building for vaccinations through May 31 at least, with an option to go beyond that if needed.
The city will provide security guards and crowd-management staff during the event, as well as janitorial services. The county will pay the city for the services.
Dr. Mandy Cohen, the state's health secretary, said Thursday she is not concerned that some healthcare providers are running out of vaccine.
In fact, she is encouraging healthcare systems and county health departments to use up all their vaccine supplies before their next allotment arrives.
"That is our goal, to run out of first-dose vaccines every week before the next shipment comes," Cohen said. "That's what we have directed our local health departments and hospitals."
Each week, DHHS has been finding out late on Thursday or early Friday how many doses it is getting from the federal government. It has been on average about 120,000 doses this month.
Providers are informed of their allotment by Friday night, with the allotments arriving on either the next Tuesday or Wednesday.