FAYETTEVILLE — Cape Fear Valley Health has about 2,300 spaces available for first-dose COVID-19 vaccine appointments, but health officials say that’s not good news. Each Friday at 5 p.m., the health system opens appointments for the following week through its website, www.capefearvalley.com/covid19. In the past, those appointments have filled up fast, typically over the weekend or by the early part of the next week.
This week, however, only about 15 percent of the appointments were full by Monday morning.
“I think what we’re worried about is the vaccine supply is outpacing demand,” said Vice President of Professional Services at Cape Fear Valley Health Dr. Chris Tart. “We need to encourage everyone to roll their sleeves up and be vaccinated so we can continue to put this pandemic behind us. We’re not where we need to be yet, but the demand has definitely slowed down. Now that the weather has warmed up, people are out and about, which puts them at more risk. I think the biggest fear is that demand is not there. People feel like we’re through the crisis, but we’re not.”
Tart said it’s possible that some demand is shifting to the more convenient one-shot Johnson and Johnson vaccine, but Cape Fear Valley Health is currently only offering that vaccine at periodic walk-in clinics, which do not require an appointment. Supply of all vaccines has also expanded, with more traditional providers and retail locations such as grocery stores offering COVID-19 vaccines.
“The Johnson and Johnson supply is sporadic, so we can’t plan it week to week like we can with Moderna and Pfizer,” Tart said. “We do hope that people step up to take whatever vaccine they’re most comfortable with, but relying on the availability at walk-in clinics cannot be the answer for everyone who still needs a vaccine at this point.”
This week, Cape Fear Valley Health is holding two walk-in clinics for the Johnson and Johnson vaccine at Cape Fear Valley Rehabilitation Center Auditorium, at 1638 Owen Drive, Fayetteville. The clinics will be Wednesday, April 14, and Friday, April 16, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., while supplies last. There are a total of 2,400 doses available, with 1,200 doses available each day.
The previous walk-in clinic held at this location was a success, administering all the approximately 900 available Johnson and Johnson vaccine doses in one day.