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Facebook group helps eligible high-risk people search for leftover COVID-19 vaccine

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) – Getting an appointment for a vaccine can be difficult.

There is a lot of information about who is eligible for what and when they can get the vaccine.

One group is working to help people navigate different methods of getting vaccinated in the Carolinas.

The main mission of the NC / SC Vaccine Hunters Facebook group is to sort vaccine and eligibility information and to share information between people.

They also want to make sure that the vaccines are not wasted at the end of the day. They are working to identify waiting lists for remaining vaccines for eligible and high-risk people.

“It’s better for anyone to get vaccinated than to end up in the landfill,” said member Leigh Thorpe.

Although these are a small number, there have been reports that doses of the vaccine had to be discarded as they expired after the thawing process before entering someone’s arm. This was first reported at a press conference in January.

This group strives to get eligible and high-risk people on any type of waiting list for remaining doses.

For people with major health problems, they say getting the vaccine one day or another could mean the difference between life and death.

“It’s a vaccine that can save lives. Every dose we throw away is someone’s life that you could have saved. There is early data that even after the dose is partially effective, ”Thorpe said.

Thorpe suffers from severe asthma. He was hospitalized 5 times in 2020 because of this.

“And each time the COVID test was negative. What really scares me is I had COVID, I don’t know if I got home, ”Thorpe said.

He is eligible for the vaccine in late March in Group 4 but says if he can get a remaining dose sooner he will take it.

Leftover or extra doses occur when someone does not show up for their scheduled appointment or a vaccinator has prepared more doses than necessary.

Thorpe and other members of the group are working to get their names put on waiting lists, hoping they will get the call to get vaccinated.

“Anyone who is vaccinated is better than throwing one away,” Thorpe said.

State guidelines and the CDC both say that a priority should be not to waste any dose of the vaccine, no matter what.

“Don’t waste any dose. If you are at the end of the day and you have 2 or 3 doses left but you no longer have people who match the priority, our recommendation is to keep a waiting list, ”said the secretary. of the North Carolina DHHS, Dr. Mandy Cohen. “Our advice is also that if you can’t find someone on this priority list, find the closest arm to someone who wants to get the shot and bring them in.”

This is how Andrea Melendez was able to get vaccinated Monday at Walgreens.

She wasn’t sure if she qualified for the priority phase of Group 3. She went to ask a pharmacist if she should try to make an appointment, instead she got the shot.

“So I asked the pharmacist I had asked if I should make an appointment and he said ‘I have one left, will you?’,” Melendez said.

Mecklenburg County, Novant Health, and Atrium Health all use a waiting list for eligible groups and will let you know if you’re next in line.

WBTV has contacted Walgreens regarding their official waitlist policy, but have not heard back from them.

Mecklenburg County said in a press conference on Tuesday that it had around 6,000 people on its current waiting list, mostly Group 3 people.

Health director Gibbie Harris said about 4% of their vaccine appointments are likely no-shows because they may have vaccinated elsewhere.

That’s when they call on their waiting list to get someone else vaccinated.

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