WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - Governor Roy Cooper and Dr. Mandy Cohen, secretary of North Carolina’s Department of Health and Human Services, said last week the state’s indoor mask mandate could potentially be lifted once two-thirds of the state’s adult population has received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. As of May 3, that total stands at 49.6 percent.
Some businesses in North Carolina have teamed up with providers to host free-walk-in vaccine clinics, and have even offered incentives to people who come in for their injection. David Howard, the health director in New Hanover County, says the health department is open to helping businesses that might want to host a clinic.
“They are free to reach out to us,” Howard said. “Our weekly planning process is about a week in advance. So, we would need about a week lead time to try to set anything up at all. We need to staff that kind of an event, typically outside our normal Monday-Tuesday cadence of our first dose operations at the mall and here at HHS (Department of Health and Human Services).”
Howard said the department has concentrated most of its outreach on ensuring all populations have access to COVID-19 vaccines, at a time that is most convenient.
“We’ve done a lot of outreach,” he said. “It may not have been with a lot of those types businesses, but we’ve done outreach to different organizations over the several months we’ve been doing the vaccinations. To be honest, in public health our focus is heavily focused on equity and equitable access to the vaccine. So a lot of our outreach and organizational connections have been around churches, local African-American churches, and the Latino population, the Tri-Community Church for instance, and getting the vaccine out to those populations.”
Assistant Health Director Carla Turner said any businesses interested in possibly hosting a vaccine clinic can call the county’s coronavirus call center at 798-6800, and the information will be passed along to the right contacts inside the health department. New Hanover Regional Medical Center is also open to teaming up with businesses to host free walk-in vaccine clinics.
“We want to make it easy for people to get vaccinated and will offer the choice of Pfizer or Johnson & Johnson vaccine whenever possible,” Michael Vorhees, internal communications coordinator for NHRMC, said in an email. “We exist to improve the health of our communities, one person at a time. If your business or organization would like to hold a vaccination event, please email Sarah.Arthur@nhrmc.org.”