Monday, September 26, 2022

New Hanover County to follow state’s updated vaccination plan, first must fulfill current appointments

N.C. changed its vaccination plan so individuals ages 65 and older can get the Moderna or Pfizer series of shots. NHC will fall in line with the new order once it gets through all Friday appointments and receives another shipment of vaccines. (Port City Daily/File)

NEW HANOVER COUNTY —  New Hanover County Health and Human Services confirmed it will fall in line with the state’s updated vaccination plan to now serve individuals 65 years and older. First, the county must work through its limited supply of vaccines to fulfill current appointments for patients 75 and older through Friday.

Related: Feds recommend states move ahead Covid-19 vaccination schedule, Cooper says supplies still lag [Free]

County officials confirmed the change will make an additional 37,000 people eligible for the vaccine in New Hanover County.

“We will be utilizing all of the vaccine currently available to us by tomorrow,” health and human services director Donna Fayko said in a press release on Jan. 14. “But upon receipt of our next first-dose vaccine shipment, we will be able to work with our healthcare partners and extend the vaccine’s availability to anyone 65 and older and all healthcare workers.”

N.C. has updated its vaccination plan — which is currently operating in Group 2 — as follows:

Group 1: Health care workers & long-term care staff and residents

  • Health care workers with in-person patient contact
  • Long-term care staff and residents—people in skilled nursing facilities, adult care homes and continuing care retirement communities

Group 2: Older adults

  • Anyone 65 years or older, regardless of health status or living situation

Group 3: Frontline essential workers

  • The CDC defines frontline essential workers as workers who are in sectors essential to the functioning of society and who are at substantially higher risk for exposure to COVID-19

Group 4: Adults at high risk for exposure and increased risk of severe illness

  • Anyone 16-64 years old with high-risk medical conditions that increase risk of severe disease from COVID-19 such as cancer, COPD, serious heart conditions, sickle cell disease, Type 2 diabetes, among others, regardless of living situation
  • Anyone who is incarcerated or living in other close group living settings who is not already vaccinated due to age, medical condition or job function
  • Essential workers not yet vaccinated. The CDC defines these as workers in transportation and logistics, water and wastewater, food service, shelter and housing (e.g., construction), finance (e.g., bank tellers), information technology and communications, energy, legal, media, public safety (e.g., engineers) and public health workers

Group 5: The general public

  • Everyone who wants a safe and effective COVID-19 vaccination

9,000 doses

To date, New Hanover County has administered 9,023 first doses of the Covid-19 vaccine and completed 2,101 of the series (given to frontline healthcare workers), according to the N.C. Health and Human Services dashboard. Both the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines require two doses, spaced 21 to 28 days apart, depending on the vaccine.

According to county spokesperson Jessica Loeper, New Hanover County Public Health has vaccinated 6,739 people between Dec. 22 and Jan. 13. Loeper confirms those numbers will likely increase by around 1,000 after today and tomorrow’s inoculations.

New Hanover County public health is working with vaccination partners New Hanover Regional Medical Center and its physician’s group primary care practices, as well as Wilmington Health.

Loeper said New Hanover Regional Medial Center has vaccinated 1,950 people 75 years or older, while Wilmington Health will be vaccinating around 975 people in the coming week.

“All of these numbers are focused on first doses,” she said. “The hospital has started providing second doses . . . The county will begin providing second doses next week.”

Loeper said by the end of this week the county will have worked through all of its first doses provided from the state.

“We are working as fast and efficiently as we can, given the amount of vaccines we have been provided,” she said.

Shipments vary weekly, as the Moderna vaccine is packaged in vials of 100 each, while Pfizer is packaged in vials of 975 each.

“For our first-dose shipments, we typically receive them on Tuesday or Wednesday of each week,” Loeper said, “but we don’t know the exact timing until about a day before.”

Related: Wilmington Health offers vaccines; county gets more doses but appointment slots quickly filled [Free]

Appointments are needed to receive the vaccination. The public at large can make appointments at public health by calling New Hanover County’s Coronavirus Call Center at 910-798-6800 and Wilmington Health by following directions online.

NHRMC is serving frontline healthcare workers, while its primary care practices are vaccinating established patients only.

The hosptial announced Thursday afternoon it anticipates announcing next week more details about who may be eligible for future appointments. It already scheduled days next week dedictaed for patients aged 75 and older.

The hospital encourages those who haven’t already signed up for a MyChart account to register to expedite vaccine scheduling when more appointments become available.

As soon as the county opens up more vaccination slots, it will inform the public. Email updates from public health are offered by signing up here.

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Shea Carver
Shea Carver is the editor in chief at Port City Daily. A UNCW alumna, Shea worked in the print media business in Wilmington for 22 years before joining the PCD team in October 2020. She specializes in arts coverage — music, film, literature, theatre — the dining scene, and can often be tapped on where to go, what to do and who to see in Wilmington. When she isn’t hanging with her pup, Shadow Wolf, tending the garden or spinning vinyl, she’s attending concerts and live theater.

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