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Healthcare workers and adults 65-and-over next to receive COVID-19 vaccine

RALEIGH — The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services announced on Thursday that vaccine providers that are ready to expand may vaccinate all health care workers and anyone 65 years and older.

“Doctors, hospitals and local health departments are working hard to get people vaccinated. There may be a wait, but when it’s your spot, take your shot to stay healthy and help us get back to being with family and friends,” said NCDHHS Secretary Mandy K. Cohen, M.D.

Because vaccine supplies are currently limited, states must make vaccine available in phases. To save lives and slow the spread of COVID-19, independent state and federal public health advisory committees recommend first protecting health care workers, people who are at the highest risk of being hospitalized or dying, and those at high risk of exposure to COVID-19.

North Carolina moves through vaccination phases by aligning to federal priorities while giving local health departments and hospitals the flexibility to move to the next priority group as they complete the previous one and have vaccines available. With this announcement, vaccine providers who are ready may vaccinate adults 65 years and older and health care workers, which will be followed by frontline essential workers, then adults with high risk of exposure and increased risk of serious illness, then everyone.

It is the responsibility of all vaccine providers to ensure equitable access to vaccines. This will mean taking intentional actions to reach and engage historically marginalized communities.

“We know that people are doing all that they can to learn about the vaccines so they can make the best decision for themselves and their families. It can be hard to know what is true and what can be trusted. We are here to provide you with honest, factual information,” said Cohen.

As part of the ongoing effort to educate North Carolinians about the safety, benefits and importance of receiving COVID-19 vaccinations, NCDHHS launched You have a spot. Take your shot. to provide all North Carolinians with information about COVID-19 vaccine development, testing, safety, side-effects and reactions.

A searchable list of health departments and hospitals administering the vaccination is available on the state’s COVID-19 vaccination website, yourspotyourshot.nc.gov. There is a wait time in many areas. Counties are in various stages as they deal with new COVID-19 cases and vaccinations. To support communities, NCDHHS is partnering with health systems, local health departments and community health centers across the state to host large community vaccine events for people currently eligible to be vaccinated.

COVID-19 vaccinations are free of charge, regardless of whether or not people have insurance. However, most doctors cannot provide COVID-19 vaccines in their office at this time. Individuals who are currently eligible and would like to receive the vaccine must make an appointment with their local health department or hospital.

Locally, Vidant Health continues to receive weekly shipments of both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccine as allocated by the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services. As of Jan. 13, more than 6,113 team members and providers have received the vaccine. More than 2,502 team members have received both doses, completing their vaccine series.

Vidant continues to vaccinate a limited number of eligible community members. Vidant’s limited appointments are reserved for community members at highest risk who have been identified through various channels including community partnerships and its patient database, MyChart. Vidant is not currently scheduling appointments by phone.

Vidant is actively working to rapidly expand access to the vaccine in the coming weeks, including working with Pitt County to establish a large vaccination site, and other locations throughout the region.

Since Jan. 8, Vidant has administered the first dose of the vaccine to 581 community members.

As of Wednesday, Jan. 13, Vidant’s system-wide census of hospitalized COVID-19 patients is 193. That number statewide stood at 3,916 as of Jan. 14.

The number of confirmed cases over the past seven days remains high, locally and across the state. Locally, there have been 128 positive cases in Northampton County in the past week; 108 in Hertford County; 85 in Bertie County; and 45 in Gates County.

There was one COVID-related death this week locally as a resident of Hertford County died from complications with the virus. This individual is in the 50-64 age range.

The COVID-19 death toll in the Roanoke-Chowan area now stands at 155 since the outbreak began in March of last year (60 in Northampton; 53 in Hertford; 30 in Bertie; and 12 in Gates).