[JAN. 8, 2021] — Brunswick County Chairman Randy Thompson sent a letter to Governor Roy Cooper this past Friday on behalf of the Board of Commissioners concerning COVID-19 vaccines.
Jan. 8, 2021
Dear Governor Cooper,
On behalf of the Brunswick County Board of Commissioners, I want to recognize the enormous challenges we all face together to address the COVID-19 public health crisis. We appreciate the efforts our state and community leaders have made this past year to guide us to this point.
The health of Brunswick County’s residents and North Carolinians everywhere is of paramount importance to all of us. We are committed to continued bipartisan efforts to help our communities slow the spread of this disease and vaccinate the public.
We understand that there are limited vaccine supplies and that it will take significant time and support from partners at all levels of government to vaccinate those who want one as safely and efficiently as possible. We also respect the state’s commitment to distributing the vaccine equitably and with concern for those most at risk of severe illness or death—hence the decision to revise the vaccination phases to prioritize individuals aged 75 or older as soon as possible.
Brunswick County is following the state’s vaccination plan closely to ensure we provide residents with a consistent message on where they fall into the plan. In line with the state’s plan and messaging that counties would transition to Phase 1b Group 1, Brunswick County started scheduling appointments for eligible individuals Wednesday, Jan. 6. However, with only 100 doses of the vaccine sent to the county health department that week—its smallest allocation yet—it took only 10 minutes to book those vaccines from more than 6,000 phone calls.
Brunswick County is recognized as one of the fastest growing counties in the state and nation, and a significant reason for that growth is because older individuals are choosing our county for their retirement. The U.S. Census Bureau estimates that of our nearly 143,000 residents, more than 15,000 residents are 75 and older and another 31,000 fall in the 65 to 74 year age range—nearly a third of our total population.
Since the recent transition to Phase 1b Group 1, several leaders and members of our communities have reached out to the commissioners with concerns that Brunswick County is not receiving enough vaccines from the state to adequately address our senior population while also continuing to vaccinate members of Phase 1a.
We are concerned not only because these are our residents most at risk of dying from this cruel disease (78 have already passed away to date sadly—most aged 65 or older), but also because a slower vaccination of this critical phase in our county might set us back from moving forward into Phase 1b Group 2 in a timely manner consistent with the rest of the state.
It is natural for people to compare what other counties or states are doing to roll out the vaccine. We continue to ask our residents to trust the process, remain patient, and continue to follow mitigation strategies like the Three Ws and staying at home as they have for so many months.
With that being said, Brunswick County is also ready and more than capable to take on additional supplies of the vaccine. For the past several months, the county developed its vaccination plan in tandem with guidance available from the NCDHHS and the CDC. We communicated through our channels with partners to ensure that as many individuals eligible under Phase 1a were notified as possible and were ready to receive a vaccine when they arrived in our county.
Brunswick County also acquired a transportable freezer trailer to accommodate versions of the vaccine like Pfizer’s that require ultra-cold storage in case that was the version the county received. At this time, Brunswick County has only received shipments of the Moderna vaccine.
Following your guidance to coordinate locally, we partnered with both county hospitals, our community college, and other area partners to combine our forces with staffing and assets to establish a county mass vaccination clinic. It has been stressed that we need to get the vaccinations in the arms of our residents as soon as possible. We stand united with our community partners, ready and hopeful to receive more vaccines and do just that.
As we enter this new year, we send our best wishes for the health and well-being of yourself, Dr. Mandy K. Cohen, and our teams across the state responding to this pandemic, especially at the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, the North Carolina Department of Public Safety, and the Office of the Governor. We are open to future communication with you and your team on opportunities to benefit as many North Carolinians as possible in this trying time.
Randell (Randy) Thompson
Brunswick County Chairman of the Board