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Beginning Wednesday, anyone 16 and older will be eligible to receive COVID-19 vaccine

Starting Wednesday, anyone 16 and older in the state will be eligible to get a COVID-19 vaccine. This comes as almost 40 percent of adults across North Carolina are partially vaccinated while more than a fourth are fully vaccinated.

As of Tuesday, about a fifth of people in Stanly are partially vaccinated while almost 15 percent are fully vaccinated. The county health department has administered 10,840 first doses and 6,214 second doses.

“This is great news,” Gov. Roy Cooper said during a news conference on Tuesday about increasing eligibility. “Because of the hard work of our providers and commitment of North Carolinians to take their shot, we’re getting people vaccinated more quickly than we predicted. This will help us turn the corner on the pandemic even sooner.”

“Many people who have patiently waited for their turn to get a shot have contacted us in anticipation of Group 5 eligibility,” said Wendy Growcock, public health specialist with the health department. “We would highly encourage all residents age 16+ to get vaccinated.”

The Pfizer vaccine is currently available to 16- and 17-year-olds while Moderna vaccine is for people 18 and older. Both have been distributed to Stanly over the last several weeks.

For the third week in a row, the health department received 1,970 vaccine doses — 1,170 Pfizer first doses and 800 Moderna second doses.

The health department administers second doses on Mondays and Tuesdays and first doses on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays.

Even when people receive their second shot, they are not yet fully vaccinated. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, people are considered fully vaccinated two weeks after their second dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine.

Jennifer Layton, program specialist with the health department, told the county commissioners Monday night she was aware of “a handful” of people who tested positive for COVID-19 within a few days after getting vaccinated.

“We know the vaccine is not 100 percent, it doesn’t put a shield over us…but it’s supposed to reduce the severity,” Layton said.

While vaccinated people can still get infected, it’s rare. According to a recent CDC study of almost 4,000 essential workers who were vaccinated during the winter surge (mid-December to mid-March), their risk of infection was reduced 90 percent two weeks after they received both doses.

Even when fully vaccinated, the CDC encourages people to wear masks and practice social distancing when in public since it’s still not clear if people who are fully vaccinated can spread the coronavirus to unvaccinated people.

Once people have been fully vaccinated, according to the CDC, they can do more things such as gather indoors with other fully vaccinated people without wearing masks or standing six feet apart and not having to get tested before or after traveling throughout the country.

While 37 new cases were reported in Stanly County Monday, bringing the cumulative total to 7,048 since last year, only three people were hospitalized, one of the lowest single-day totals since early last year.

Layton said that while the county has not been notified of any coronavirus variants detected in the county, the percent positive has increased to 6.4 percent, after it had been around 5 percent a few weeks ago. It’s still lower than the state’s overall percentage of 7.0.

People in Stanly County can call the Health Department’s vaccine hotline at 980-323-0205 to schedule an appointment. For alternative providers, people can look for a vaccine appointment online by visiting either Walgreens (www.walgreens.com/findcare/vaccination/covid-19) or CVS (cvs.com/immunizations/covid-19-vaccine) and checking for availability in their area.

About Chris Miller

Chris Miller has been with the SNAP since January 2019. He is a graduate of NC State and received his Master's in Journalism from the University of Maryland. He previously wrote for the Capital News Service in Annapolis, where many of his stories on immigration and culture were published in national papers via the AP wire.

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