Vaccines In Short Supply In New Hanover County: COVID Variant Arrives In NC

Vaccines In Short Supply In New Hanover County: COVID Variant Arrives In NC

Vaccines In Short Supply In New Hanover County: COVID Variant Arrives In NC Featured

By / Local News / Tuesday, 26 January 2021 02:32

By WILLARD KILLOUGH III
Managing Editor

NEW HANOVER CTY - A little over 9,700 people 65 and older have received their first dose of COVID-19 vaccinations in New Hanover County.
On Tuesday January 26th, New Hanover County reported 12,570 cases, up from 7,713 cases of COVID-19 in early December 2020, with 110 deaths. For the U.S. the total on January 26th was 25,018,520 with 417,936 deceased across the nation. For North Carolina, cases totaled 727,423 with 8,776 deaths statewide. For New Hanover, 9,573 are presumed recovered with 2,881 presumed still active.
Public Health Assistant Director Carla Turner, RN, MSHCA, explained last week, “We have consistently been seeing more than 100 new COVID cases reported each day to Public Health over the past few weeks, and that is incredibly concerning," and, "I think we all have COVID fatigue, and that is leading some people to relax the protective measures we have been encouraging for the past 10 months, but now isn’t the time to do that. We have several more months left before enough people are vaccinated and we can begin to relax our precautions - so please continue to wear your mask and avoid gatherings."
People eligible at this time for vaccination include health care workers and people over the age of 65.
Officials are taking appointments for vaccinations as more vaccine doses arrive, often with thousands of appointments being scheduled within hours of an announcement of availability.
New Hanover Regional Medical Center and Wilmington Health have been able to assist in vaccinating thousands more in the community.
Health and Human Services Director Donna Fayko explained, "The county is committed to get all of the vaccines we receive from the state into arms within seven days of receipt," and, "And often times, we are doing it even faster than seven days, thanks to our incredible staff’s efforts and the partnerships we have with the hospital, Wilmington Health, and others to increase our efficiency and efforts. We are seeing a high demand for the vaccine, which is great; but we can only move as fast as our vaccine supply from the state allows. So we ask for the community’s patience. We will get to everyone who wants a vaccine - but it is going to take time."
Vaccines can be scheduled through these entities when they have appointments open. Learn more at NHRMC.org/coronavirus and WilmingtonHealth.com/COVIDvaccine"
As additional vaccine supply is received from the state, the county will open additional appointments for those who are eligible under the state’s vaccination plan; and will continue partnering with local healthcare partners and clinics that are approved vaccinators by the state to ensure that even more people who are eligible in the county can receive the vaccine.
To stay up-to-date on local vaccination efforts, phases, and frequently asked questions, visit Health.NHCgov.com/Coronavirus.
In accordance with federal recommendations, the state has given local entities the flexibility to begin vaccinating North Carolinians over the age of 65 and all health care workers who have in-person contact with patients.
In the last couple of weeks, North Carolina has significantly increased the pace of vaccinations. The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services is supporting 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. More than 45,000 vaccines are expected to be given through these events. A list of local vaccine providers is available on YourSpotYourShot.nc.gov.
With vaccines still in short supply, the state is implementing a phased distribution of the vaccine. But Governor Roy Cooper and Secretary Cohen are encouraging all North Carolinians to be informed about the benefits and safety of the COVID vaccine now so they can be ready when it’s their turn to roll up their sleeves.
New Hanover County Public Health also began administering second doses of the vaccine, and will have a full-scale second-dose vaccination effort next week – vaccinating around 4,800 individuals with their second dose of either Pfizer (21 days after first dose) or Moderna (28 days after first dose). Given this large-scale second dose effort next week, the county will not be offering first-dose appointments over the coming week and will instead be transferring its first-dose vaccine supply of 1950 doses from the state to NHRMC and Wilmington Health to schedule vaccine appointments for those who are eligible in the community.
Information about how to access appointments through these healthcare partners next week is below (note: appointments will be announced and opened by each entity as they receive vaccine supply confirmations):
• NHRMC: Vaccinations can be scheduled at nhrmc.org/coronavirus or by calling (910) 662-2020 when appointments are available. NHRMC now has an email list available for anyone to sign up to receive notifications when COVID-19 vaccine appointments are available. The link to sign up can be found here.
• Wilmington Health: Vaccinations can be scheduled at WilmingtonHealth.com/COVIDvaccine or by calling (910) 407-5115 when appointments are available.
"New Hanover County Public Health has worked diligently to make the vaccination process as easy and efficient as possible - ramping up staffing and resources, working with partners, and continuously improving processes," said Fayko. "We are also in the process of finalizing an online scheduling system that will be launched the first week of February, when we open up additional first-dose appointments, which will make it even easier for people to book appointments. We will still be limited in the number of appointments we can offer, based on the supply we have, but we believe this will be a good improvement for the customer experience, coupled with our dedicated call center that will continue to take appointments."
New Hanover County is also focusing on specific outreach to historically marginalized communities, communities of color, indigenous people groups, older adults who are home-bound, those facing homelessness, and others. The county’s Office of Diversity and Equity has led these efforts, working with community partners to call people directly and schedule them for vaccinations at targeted outreach sites. More than 600 people in the community were vaccinated through these outreach efforts just this week, and this effort will continue in the months to come. In addition, the county is partnering with MedNorth and Cape Fear Clinic to provide vaccine and assist their efforts to reach eligible patients as well.
NCDHHS Reports First Identified Case of B.1.1.7 COVID-19 Variant in NC
On January 23rd, the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services reported the first identification in a North Carolina resident of the COVID-19 variant called B.1.1.7, which was first detected in the United Kingdom in December. The B.1.1.7 variant was identified in a sample from an adult in Mecklenburg County processed by Mako Medical Laboratories.
In the United States, 195 cases of B.1.1.7 had been reported in 21 states as of January 22nd, 2021. Early data suggest that this variant may be more contagious than other variants. Current COVID-19 vaccines are expected to be effective against the new variant.
"While expected, identification of this COVID-19 variant in North Carolina is concerning, especially at the same time as we are already seeing very high numbers of cases," said NCDHHS Secretary Mandy Cohen, MD. "It is more important than ever to practice the 3Ws."
State health officials advise people to stay home except for essential activities and avoid gathering, especially indoors, with people who do not live with you. If you absolutely must travel or be with people you do not live with, get tested in advance, keep it small and outdoors and always wear a mask.
North Carolina's Modified Stay at Home Order is in effect. This order requires people to stay at home between the hours of 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. Businesses including restaurants, bars, entertainment venues, personal care businesses, most retail stores and more, are required to close by 10 p.m. In addition, all onsite alcohol consumption sales must end by 9 p.m.

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