NEW HANOVER COUNTY, N.C. (WECT) - New Hanover County (NHC) began administering vaccines according to the county’s COVID-19 Vaccination Plan after receiving its first shipment of the Moderna Inc. Vaccine Tuesday.
Registered nurse Panza Allen McNeill, who provides COVID-19 testing to the public, was the first person to receive the Moderna vaccine in New Hanover County today.
“The COVID-19 pandemic continues to be the fight of our lives, but the arrival of the vaccine gives a glimpse of light at the end of the tunnel,” said Allen McNeill. “My hope is that others will see myself and my colleagues take the vaccine and feel more comfortable making the decision to be vaccinated themselves.”
New Hanover County Public Health received close to 5,000 Moderna vaccine doses for the county to administer Phase one vaccinations to first responders, healthcare workers, staff and residents at long-term care facilities, and adults 65 and older with underlying health conditions. Phase one is expected to take several weeks.
“Today is a momentous day for our community and I am grateful to our Public Health team who have been in the forefront, serving our residents since day one of COVID-19,” said New Hanover County Board of Commissioners Chair Julia Olson-Boseman. “In the coming days, our team will be giving this vaccine to staff and residents in long-term care facilities, who are among the most vulnerable and hardest hit by the virus. This will bring hope to so many and will help us begin to really fight back against this virus.”
Not everyone will get the vaccine right away. As more doses arrive, NHC Public Health will set up additional sites for vaccine administration that will ultimately include physician offices. The entire plan is expected to take up to nine months to complete.
“It’s going to be a process so the plan that we have developed encompasses a process over nine months,” said New Hanover County Health and Human Services Consolidated Agency director Donna Fayko. “That we will ensure that everyone Who wants a vaccine will have the opportunity to get that vaccine free of charge.”
New Hanover County continues to monitor rising cases of COVID-19 including seven outbreaks and two clusters in the community.
“We must continue to do everything we can to slow the spread. This holiday season especially, keep gatherings to those in your household, and when outside of your home, follow the three Ws to protect yourself and others. We want everyone to see the end of the pandemic, so don’t let a moment of poor judgement take that away from someone,” said Assistant Health Director Carla Turner, RN, MSHCA.
A priority in the plan is reaching marginalized communities, making sure they have an equal opportunity to get the vaccine and addressing any questions about its’ safety.
“There is a pastor’s group over 60 churches that have come together we are working through all avenues that are available,” said Fayko. “We’re trying to get education out there and answer questions that we can encourage people to make their own decisions about taking the vaccine or not.”