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New Hanover County public health collaborates with variety of attractions to hold vaccine outreach events

Updated: Jun. 21, 2021 at 5:56 PM EDT
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WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - Virus cases are dropping, but with COVID-19 variants circulating, health leaders are in a race to reach herd immunity.

New Hanover County Public Health has forged partnerships in unlikely places, and has no shortage of ideas to get there.

“I never thought in a million years we would be doing a vaccine event at the aquarium,” said Hap Fatzinger, director of the NC Aquarium at Fort Fisher.

The aquarium, though, is the latest place people can get a shot. The attraction reached out to the county to set up a clinic offering the Pfizer vaccine on Sunday, June 27, in exchange for a free voucher to visit the aquarium.

Since the vaccine roll out, public health has partnered with nightclubs, breweries and businesses. There’s already plans in the works to bring vaccine outreach to venues like the New Hanover County courthouse.

“We don’t know how much of our unvaccinated population is because they don’t know how to navigate the system, as opposed to ‘I dont want that shot.” If we can reduce the number of people who cant navigate the system and provide them an opportunity to be vaccinated if they choose to be, then that would be a great service we can provide,” said Chief District Court Judge J Corpening.

Health workers plan to hold a barbershop event in July at Maides Park, and are putting the finishing touches on a mobile trailer that will allow them to hold events in any neighborhood.

“We’re going to be willing to go to places where it’s convenient and to both educate and get the vaccine,” said New Hanover County Public Health Director David Howard. ”The virus is still quite dangerous and we’re seeing people in younger age groups become seriously ill and in the hospital because the variants can pose different, new problems.”

It’s all in an effort to move New Hanover County from 50 percent, to 70 percent of the general population vaccinated.

Howard, though, says they haven’t had any trouble coming up with ideas on how to reach herd immunity and they’ve gotten several calls from groups just like the aquarium, hoping to guide our community out of troubled waters.

“Really, it’s about how can we work together, how can we support each other, how can we provide for our community together when our community needs it,” said Fatzinger.

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