Vaccintions

ELIZABETH CITY — Albemarle Regional Health Services (ARHS) is hosting COVID-19 vaccine clinics throughout the region today, January 7.

Vaccines will be available to anyone in the following categories:

  • Phase 1a: Health care workers fighting COVID-19 and long-term care staff and residents. Hospitals and local health departments are vaccinating health care workers caring for and working directly with patients with COVID-19 and those giving vaccines. In addition, the federal government is vaccinating long-term care residents and staff.
  • Phase 1b: Adults 75 years or older and frontline essential workers. Group 1: Anyone 75 years or older regardless of medical condition or living situation. People do not have to have a chronic health condition.

The clinic at the Chowan County Health Department will be from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. today, January 7.

Other ARHS locations and vaccination clinic times for January 7 are:

  • Bertie County Health Department: 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
  • Camden County Health Department: 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
  • Currituck, Maple Park: 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
  • Gates County: 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
  • Hertford, Ahoskie Creek Amphiteater: 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
  • Pasquotank, College of the Albemarle: 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
  • Perquimans, Perquimans County Recreation Center: 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.

ARHS staff and county partners will operate drive-through clinics during these times. Vaccine will be available first-come first-serve, as long as vaccine is available. There will be no cost for the vaccine, however if you have insurance, ARHS will ask for that information. Individuals will be asked to provide vaccination registration information and wait for 15 minutes following the vaccine as per standard protocol. Information on the vaccine and a card will be provided that will remind you of when your second dose is due, approximately 3-4 weeks following the first dose.

“ARHS is mobilizing all of our public health resources to meet the demand we are experiencing and serve individuals in phase1A and 1B Group 1,” said R. Battle Betts Jr., MPA, ARHS health director. “We ask our residents to review these guidelines and allow these priority groups to be served on these dates. As additional supplies are made available and we begin to move to vaccination of other phases, we will offer additional clinics across the district. We thank you in advance for your patience and cooperation as we respond to this pandemic.”

Note that once vaccinated, protection is NOT immediate. The two-dose series is needed then it will take 1 to 2 weeks following the second dose to be considered fully vaccinated. CDC also notes that no vaccine is 100% effective.

Given this information, vaccinated persons should continue to follow all guidance:

  • Wearing a mask
  • Staying at least 6 ft. away from others
  • Avoiding crowds
  • Washing hands often
  • Following CDC Travel Guidance
  • Following isolation guidance if sick
  • Following quarantine guidance if exposed
  • Following workplace and school guidance if applicable

If you have any questions, contact Chowan County Health Department at 252-482-6003.

Vaccination plan

The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services recently updated its vaccination plan to align with new federal recommendations.

North Carolina’s updated plan is outlined below:

Current Phase-Phase 1a:

  • Health care workers fighting COVID-19 and long-term care staff and residents
  • Hospitals and local health departments are vaccinating health care workers caring for and working directly with patients with COVID-19 and those giving vaccines. In addition, the federal government is vaccinating long-term care residents and staff.

Phase 1b:

Adults 75 years or older and frontline essential workers. The next phase of vaccinations will open in groups.

  • Group 1: Anyone 75 years or older regardless of medical condition or living situation. People do not have to have a chronic health condition.
  • Group 2: Health care and frontline essential workers who are 50 years of age or older.
  • Group 3: Frontline workers of any age and health care workers ofany age, regardless of whether they work directly with COVID-19 patients. This phase is anticipated to begin in early January. The CDC defines frontline essential workers as first-responders (firefighters, police), education (child care, teachers, support staff), manufacturing, corrections officers, public transit, grocery store, food and agriculture, and US postal workers.

Phase 2: Adults at high risk for exposure and at increased risk of severe illness. In this phase, vaccinations will also open in groups.

  • Group 1: Anyone ages 65-74 years regardless of medical condition or living situation.
  • Group 2: Anyone 16-64 years with a medical condition that increases risk of severe disease from COVID-19.
  • Group 3: Anyone who is incarcerated or living in other close group living settings who has not already vaccinated due to age, medical condition or job function.
  • Group 4: Essential workers as defined by the CDC who have not yet been vaccinated.

Phase 3: Students.

  • College, university and high school students 16 or older.
  • Younger children will only be vaccinated when the vaccine is approved for them.

Phase 4: Finally, anyone who wants a COVID-19 vaccine will be able to get one.

ARHS provided 234 vaccines across the region since receiving the first initial doses last week. Vaccines have been targeted to Phase 1a healthcare providers. The department planned to move into Phase 1b this week and as vaccine allotments increase.

“As we head into 2021, we look forward to continuing to work through the vaccination plan set forth by NCDHHS,” Betts said. “Vaccine supplies are limited right now but we expect in the months to come they will become more widely available. Even though we are moving into the vaccine phase of the pandemic it is still vital that we continue practicing the 3 Ws — wear a face covering, keep 6 feet of social distancing, and wash hands well.”

Amy Underhill said ARHS “welcomes the change in vaccination guidance and groups.”

“At this time, we are still working through the 1a frontline healthcare workers and first responders, along with long-term care facilities not covered by the federal pharmacy contract,” she said. “Individuals 75 and older are now in the 1b category, and the state has advised we aim for the beginning of January for this group, once we have been able to reach those in the 1a group who want the vaccine.”

Asked if ARHS foresees any problems or issues administering vaccines — the rollout of vaccinations has come under fire for being too slow in some areas of the U.S. because of a shortage of health staff — Underhill indicated the agency expects to have the staffing it needs.

“As more vaccine becomes available, additional providers will be brought in to assist with reach and vaccination efforts,” she said. “In addition, ARHS has excellent partners in (Pasquotank-Camden) EMS, COA (College of The Albemarle) and ECSU (Elizabeth City State University), all of which will be assisting with the local public health effort as we expand clinics.”

Contact Nicole Bowman-Layton at nlayton@ncweeklies.com.