Following guidance from state health officials, Albemarle Regional Health Services planned to expand COVID vaccinations to persons 65 and older starting Monday, the agency said Friday.
The agency also reported it vaccinated another 3,700 residents this week, raising the total number of those in ARHS’ eight-county region receiving a first COVID shot to 11,815.
ARHS also said two more residents in the region died of complications from COVID over the past week, raising the death toll in the eight counties to 200.
The health agency announced last week it had started registering health care workers and persons 75 and older for COVID vaccinations, dispensing with the mass clinics it used the week before to administer first doses of the vaccine.
Under the new vaccination regimen, persons 75 and older were asked to register online for an appointment to get the vaccine. ARHS said residents could sign up by their county of residence at http://www.arhs-nc.org/information/COVID-19/vaccines/.
But after the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services announced Thursday providers can expand vaccinations to persons 65 and older, ARHS said it will update its registration form on Monday to include the younger target group.
According to ARHS’ website, all slots for vaccinations slated for next week are full.
The agency said it planned to open new registrations on Monday. Those signing up should be only residents who haven’t received a first dose, ARHS said.
“We are asking individuals to be mindful of the target groups and the ARHS service area and only register if you are a resident and qualify for that target group,” the agency said in a press release.
The agency said it has set a vaccine allocation for each county and the first persons signed up and registered through its website will be contacted by ARHS staff and offered an appointment to get the vaccine.
ARHS said previously that it plans to distribute next week’s vaccine allocation the following way: 600 will be administered in Pasquotank County; 500 in Currituck County; 400 in Hertford County; 300 each in Bertie, Chowan and Perquimans counties; and 200 each in Gates and Camden counties.
ARHS reiterated that residents can only register for the vaccine in one county; those signing up in more than one county will have their name removed from the registration list. The agency also said those given an appointment who fail to show up for it will have to register for a new appointment.
ARHS also reiterated that those not pre-registered for the vaccine will not be able to get a vaccination when they are administered. The agency said clinics where the vaccine is administered will be advertised to registered recipients only; they will not be “mass first come, first served” clinics.
ARHS noted its allotments of the vaccine vary from week to week and the agency isn’t notified how much it’s getting until the beginning of each week.
“Vaccine supplies allocated from the federal and state governments remain low; therefore the demand for the vaccine far exceeds our ability to vaccinate all who need and want it,” ARHS Director Battle Betts said in the release. “ARHS remains committed to utilizing all of our resources to help ensure the vaccine is allocated to our region.”
The agency also noted that those who’ve already received a first dose of the vaccine should check ARHS’ website for information about when second doses will be administered. ARHS said it plans to announce the schedule for those second doses next week.
ARHS released data Friday showing where residents are getting vaccinated. Pasquotank has had the most people vaccinated: 3,385. Currituck is next with 2,300 vaccinated. Perquimans is third with 1,750 vaccinated. Hertford is fourth with 1,100 vaccinations, followed by Chowan, with 1,040 vaccinations. Bertie has had 800 persons vaccinated, Camden has had 740 vaccinated, and Gates has had 700 vaccinations.
ARHS also reported two COVID-related deaths on Friday. One was a Hertford County resident between the ages of 50 and 64; the other was a Perquimans County resident over 65. Neither death was connected to an ongoing facility outbreak of COVID, the agency said.
ARHS also reported that total COVID cases have now surpassed 8,700, with 1,470 of them considered active. The agency said 4,844 COVID tests were performed in the region for the week ending Jan. 9, and that the region’s positive test rate was 14.9%, down 4.76% from the previous week.
Julian Eure is managing editor of the Daily Advance.