PENDER COUNTY — With demand for the Covid-19 vaccine surging, Pender County has filled all available appointment slots through the end of this week for residents hoping to schedule a shot.
In a press release, the county’s health and human services director, Carolyn Moser, urged all individuals in line for their doses to leave their names and numbers with the health department.
“We will return their call to schedule an appointment,” Moser said in the press release. “However, the number of patients we can see will be dependent upon how many doses of the vaccine we receive in the next shipments.”
The county receives weekly shipments of the vaccine from the state, about 300-400 doses per shipment, according to Moser.
Throughout North Carolina, local health departments kicked off the vaccination effort by attending to medical health care workers, many of whom were involved in the treatment of patients with Covid-19. On Jan. 5, Pender County transitioned into vaccinating individuals in the general population ages 75 and older — in the N.C. plan, this group is referred to as Phase 1B, Group 1.
“Phones have been overwhelmed even though we have rolled to at least 8 lines,” Moser wrote in an email. “We are working with Emergency Management to set up a call center.”
She added that Pender County will not move into later phases of the state’s vaccination plan “without meeting the needs of the current phase in which they are vaccinating.”
As of Jan. 11, Pender County staff had vaccinated nearly 1,000 individuals, and demand has been overwhelming despite the health department adding phone lines.
With a positive Covid-19 test percentage of around 13.3% and 723 positive cases per 100,000 residents, Pender has been identified by the state as a county of critical — the most severe of DHHS’ three-tier rating system — community spread. The same is true for nearby Brunswick and New Hanover counties.
A Jan. 8 report from the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services identified two ongoing clusters — groups of five-or-more Covid-19 cases linked by proximity and time — at congregate living settings in Pender County.
According to the report, there is a 25-person cluster at The Laurels of Pender nursing home, and a 20-person cluster at Woodbury Wellness Center Inc. There are no reported ongoing clusters at educational facilities in the county.
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