RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — While the pace of COVID-19 vaccination has picked up across North Carolina lately, it could still take many months to inoculate every adult in the state, a CBS17.com data analysis found.
The state Department of Health and Human Services reports 573,130 doses have been administered so far, a total that includes more than 72,000 that have been given at nursing homes through the federal partnership with CVS and Walgreens.
Roughly 100,000 shots were given during the three days between Monday and Wednesday of this week, and that daily average of 33,333 doses represents a 30 percent increase from last week, when an average of 26,000 shots were given each day.
There are roughly 8 million adults across the state — neither of the two vaccines on the market are authorized for people younger than 16 — and each requires two doses for full inoculation.
If those Pfizer and Moderna vaccines remain the only ones available, more than 15 million doses still would be needed to fully vaccinate the state’s adult population.
Maintaining the current daily rate established this week would require another 450 days to administer all those shots — in mid-April 2022.
That timeline falls in line with President Joe Biden’s goal of 100 million shots in 100 days, or 1 million shots per day, across the nation.
But state leaders have expressed confidence that the pace of vaccination is picking up every day.
Increasing the rate by another 30 percent — to more than 43,000 shots per day — would shave a few more months off, to roughly a year from now.
Reaching herd immunity — when person-to-person spread becomes more unlikely because enough people are immune to the virus — through the vaccination process probably wouldn’t take nearly as long.
There’s a question of what percentage would be the tipping point, with the World Health Organization suggesting 60-70 percent and Dr. Anthony Fauci saying it could be between 70-85 percent.
Splitting the difference, 75 percent of the state’s adult population could be fully vaccinated in just under a year if the current daily average of 33,333 doses per day is maintained. The 30 percent acceleration could make it a possibility by the end of 2021.
Those timelines also fall in line with national projections based on the current U.S. average of 914,000 doses per day and the accelerated average of 1 million daily doses.
Dr. David Wohl, an infectious disease expert at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, says it’s hard to put a maximum speed limit on just how fast the vaccination process conceivably could go in the state.
“It has to do with just the three Ss — you need staff, space and stuff,” Wohl said. “And here, the stuff is the vaccine but also the PPE, also the equipment you need. And we have the stuff, other than the vaccine.
“Space, we have … and then it comes down to staff,” he added. “It takes a lot of people. … It’s a massive effort so I don’t know what our capacity is, I think we’ll keep pushing it and if we have to be creative with mobile or drive-up, we can do that.”