SOUTHEASTERN, N.C. (WECT) -Teachers and school staff had a head start last week, but starting Wednesday, front line workers ranging from mail carriers to elected officials can get the COVID-19 vaccine.
While Governor Cooper’s order allows the state to move on to the next group, the choice on whether or not to offer appointments to essential workers is essentially up to the providers in your community.
Providers with vaccine allotments range from big box drug stores to hospital systems and county governments, and they all have different appointment and notification systems.
This list will be updated as responses come in from various agencies administering vaccine.
As of Tuesday, Brunswick County Public Health reported they were offering additional first dose vaccination appointments Thursday and Friday.
“Community members who fall under Group 1 (health care workers), Group 2 (anyone 65 or older regardless of health status or living situation), and Group 3 (anyone working in child care or in PreK-12 schools) are eligible for COVID-19 vaccinations,” leaders wrote on their Facebook page Tuesday.
According to the allotments from state DHHS leaders, Brunswick County Health Services is also slated to receive 1,000 doses of the new Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
Wednesday evening, a spokesperson for Novant Health confirmed the hospital will align the eligible groups with the state’s guidelines and service all front line workers included in Group 3.
Bladen Hospital is opening appointments to county residents in all phases of Group 3 for eligible people to receive the Moderna vaccine. Each Friday afternoon at 5 p.m., appointments open up online for Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday of the following week.
“Since we began vaccinating the public in December, we have given over 5,000 doses of the vaccine from our hospital alone. I can’t say enough about how great our staff is and how hard they have all been working to roll out the vaccine to our community. The community support has been outstanding as well. It’s great to see folks leaving with a smile on their face thanking the team for a job well done,” said Bladen Healthcare president Stephen Fife.
Hospital leaders say they’re working with the county health department to organize some larger scale vaccination events in the future.
Beginning Wednesday, the Columbus County Health Department is accepting appointments for Columbus County residents in Groups 1, 2 and 3.
“This includes healthcare workers, long-term care workers, individuals 65+, and front line essential workers (i.e. manufacturing, education, essential goods, food and agriculture, government and community services, public safety, and transportation,” the department wrote in a Facebook post Tuesday.
According to the allotments from state DHHS leaders, Columbus County Health Department is slated to receive 1,000 doses of the new Johnson & Johnson vaccine and Columbus Regional is expected to receive 200 doses.
In New Hanover County leaders say there’s a community strategy to get everyone covered. NHRMC and pharmacies are accepting appointments for all of Group 3, however, New Hanover County Public Health isn’t opening up their vaccine supply to everyone in that essential worker group and instead, is focusing on the over 65 age group.
New Hanover County has vaccinated 65 percent of that older adult age group, but they want to see that number much higher before they start giving shots to all essential workers.
On Wednesday, public health worked with the hospital and held another clinic to get COVID-19 vaccine in the arms of teachers and daycare workers. Once more seniors are vaccinated, leaders say we will likely see a lot more clinics pop up that are specific to certain jobs and industries.
“The essential workforce is a little different because they’re all at work and we can’t necessarily vaccinate all of them all at once so, as we move into Group 3, we will probably look at taking care of very essential services that our society relies on, initially because those can be captured in a relatively organized manner such as the court system and/or essential services the community relies on, can’t really function without,” said New Hanover County Interim Health Director David Howard.
According to the allotments from state DHHS leaders, New Hanover Regional Medical Center is slated to receive 2,000 doses of the new Johnson & Johnson vaccine. MedNorth is expected to receive 400 doses of the new one-shot vaccine.
Pender County Public Health officials say it plans to tackle essential workers in Group 3 next week as long so they get the vaccine allotments they planned on.
Work has already been underway to vaccinate teachers and school staff. On Wednesday, clinics were held in Burgaw and Hampstead to vaccinate 50 percent of the county’s education workers.
Once they do open appointments up to essential workers, they also plan to target certain populations based on their occupation because of the sheer number of people that fall into the category of Group 3.
“Focus on county employees as well as the court system. You know, that’s a really big group. The front line essential workers — that covers so many professions and we have a finite group when we start talking about county employees and sheriff’s department. But then we also start talking about individuals that work in grocery stores, restaurants, you know, it’s just a scattered group,” said Pender County Health Director Carolyn Moser.
According to Moser, 13 percent of Pender County residents have received their vaccination. Three quarters of the people who have already had their shot are in the over 65 age range.