NC reports millionth COVID case as vaccine demand drops

RALEIGH, N.C. — North Carolina health providers are requesting fewer and fewer vaccines and have sent back nearly 390,000 doses to the federal government as the state ramps up efforts to reach communities that have been less likely to get a COVID-19 shot.

Thirty of the more than 1,200 vaccine providers in the state are slated to receive additional first doses of the Moderna vaccine this week, according to data from the state health department. The federal government made over 265,000 first doses of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines available to North Carolina this week, but state health officials accepted 3,700 Moderna vaccines.

As of May 20, the state said it had donated 388,960 doses of vaccine to the federal government pool.

For the second consecutive week, no providers are getting additional first doses of the Pfizer or single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccines.

Supply is greatly outpacing demand, as nearly 2.3 million COVID-19 shots are waiting on shelves to be administered to residents. The dwindling interest comes as the state reported on Thursday that it has surpassed 1 million coronavirus cases since the start of the pandemic.

Cases, hospitalizations and deaths have dropped in recent weeks, prompting the state to ease occupancy, gathering, masking restrictions for all residents, regardless of whether or not they are vaccinated.

Nearly half of adults and two-fifths of North Carolina residents are fully vaccinated. About 43% of residents and 53% of adults have received at least one COVID-19 shot, which is below the national average of 50% and 62%, respectively, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

North Carolina health officials have sought to boost vaccine participation through census tract data to target distribution efforts to underserved communities. From Wednesday to June 8, select vaccine sites in Mecklenburg, Guilford, Rowan and Rockingham counties are partnering with the state health department to provide $25 cash cards to adults who get their first COVID-19 dose or drive someone to their vaccination.

“We have a strong supply of COVID-19 vaccines, and we want to make it as easy as possible for people to get their free COVID-19 vaccine,” N.C. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Mandy Cohen said in a news release.

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