New Hanover County continues to get creative with vaccine clinics, as it monitors Delta variant

As COVID-19 hospitalizations increase experts are concerned about Delta variant
Published: Jul. 15, 2021 at 11:47 PM EDT
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WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - New Hanover County Health and Human Services’ Public Health urges the community to get vaccinated as it monitors the new Delta variant and continues to get creative with its vaccine events.

In a press release on Thursday, the county said, “As vaccination rates decline, new cases of COVID-19 are increasing, and notably increasing among unvaccinated residents. With more activity and reopening of businesses for the busy summer season, the risk of COVID-19 infections also has increased and is especially concerning with potential impacts of the new Delta variant.”

The release came only hours before a pop-up vaccine clinic at Flytrap Brewing hosted by New Hanover County Health and Human Services’ Public Health, a nod at the county’s continued efforts to reach as many people in the community as possible.

“So tonight really is, I think, our first big outreach to the younger crowd,” said Health and Human Services Director Donna Fayko. “So this one is more generalized to the 20- 30-something crowd that goes downtown and hangs out, so I think tonight’s going to be a good indicator to see if this is a draw or not.”

Since the vaccine roll out, public health has partnered with the aquarium, nightclubs, breweries and businesses.

Thursday’s clinic was held in partnership with the Cape Fear Craft Beer Alliance.

“The breweries are so happy to be back with people and people coming and getting beer and hanging out, so we just want to get people vaccinated and that way more people can come hang out at breweries and all the other places Wilmington has to offer,” said Jeremy Tomlinson, Cape Fear Craft Beer Alliance board member.

Everyone who got vaccinated got a token from the Cape Fear Craft Beer Alliance, which can be used to get a beer at any of the participating breweries.

These vaccination efforts are becoming especially important as COVID-19 hospitalizations are increasing in more than a dozen states, North Carolina being one of them. The data shows that 99% of hospitalized patients are unvaccinated and the more contagious Delta variant now accounts for nearly 60-percent of new infections in the U.S.

Health officials are concerned across the country and right here in New Hanover County. Since the county hit 49% of the population being vaccinated, it has taken quite some time to reach the current mark of 52%.

“We have seen quite a significant decline [in vaccinations],” Fayko said. “Once we reached that 49% population being vaccinated, it’s the growth to the next 3% — because we’re only at 52% now — that growth has taken weeks, where as it used to take days, we would jump percentages, so it definitely has tapered off.”

Getting the younger population vaccinated continues to be a challenge, but experts believe it is even more important now that more transmissible variants have emerged.

“I am very concerned about the Delta variant to be candid with you,” Fayko said. “Because we’re finding that it has with it more severe illness and it is affecting our younger people. So we’re hearing that the hospitals are seeing younger people being admitted with covid now.”

A number of young people, including those who are not even 21 yet, got a vaccine dose at the pop-up clinic at Flytrap Brewing. One 15-year-old says it’s one of the best shots he’s ever had.

“If I was 21, you know, this would be a really cool event and I’m sure my parents are having a good time,” said Connor Rohlf about the event. “It’s not like a normal shot where you go to the doctor, and you hate the big needle. It’s like you get to be able to socialize and maybe meet someone new and have a drink. It’s cool things like that that make this shot one of the best I’ve had.”

There will be more events like this in the future for those who missed out on Thursday. There are plans to go to Hi-Wire brewing and Waterline Brewing in August.

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