MOREHEAD CITY — Though the demand far exceeded the number of COVID-19 vaccines received, the Carteret County Health Department started vaccinating those in the general public age 75 years and older Monday.
Health officials began scheduling appointments last week for that group, and by Friday had announced they could not accept any more appointments. The department received 500 doses of the vaccine from the state for Phase 1b, Group 1, which includes residents 75 years and older.
The department vaccinated close to 300 individuals last week from Phase 1a, which includes frontline health care workers and those working and residing in long-term care facilities.
Despite cutting off appointments for the week, county officials said those who have left a message to sign up with the health department have been placed on a waiting list and will receive a call when doses are available.
“As we receive more vaccines from the State, the Health Department will contact individuals on the Phase 1b Group 1 waiting list to schedule an appointment,” county officials stated in a Friday Facebook post.
County Health Department Director Stephanie Cannon encouraged those 75 and older to receive a vaccination as soon as possible when doses are available.
“Older adults, especially those over the age of 75, have been disproportionately affected by COVID-19 and are more likely to require care such as hospitalization,” Ms. Cannon said in an email to the News-Times. “It is important that those individuals 75 years and older receive the vaccine to protect themselves from a virus that can cause death.”
Due to the high volume of calls from residents seeking COVID-19 vaccination appointments, the health department added an online appointment request form last week to the county website.
In addition, Carteret Health Care in Morehead City is partnering with the health department to administer vaccinations to residents age 75 years and older. CHC Public Information Officer Michelle Lee said Monday the hospital planned to continue vaccinating older residents and and frontline health care workers.
“We are continuing to vaccinate community members 75 and over this week. We do have a wait list — but just found out we are starting to schedule again. Of course, we are continuing to vaccinate our front line staff too. Many are getting their second dose this week,” Ms. Lee said in an email Monday.
She said last week the hospital vaccinated 107 people in the 75 or older group. This week, the hospital plans to vaccinate another 340.
CHC began hosting vaccination clinics Thursday by appointment only at the hospital at 3500 Arendell St. To receive a vaccination, individuals must make an appointment in advance and fall within Phase 1a or Phase 1b, Group 1, of the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services vaccination plan.
CHC administered its first doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine Dec. 17.
As for when county officials anticipate moving into the next phase, which includes frontline essential workers older than 50, health care workers with in-person patient contact and frontline workers of any age, County Public Information Officer Jamie Long said it is too soon to speculate.
“Moving to different phases will depend on the amount of and how quickly we receive vaccines from the state,” she said.
Phase 2 of the plan will involve vaccinating adults at high risk for exposure and at increased risk of severe illness. Phase 3 is students and Phase 4 is all others who want the vaccine.
Ms. Long encouraged individuals 75 and older to request an appointment online at carteretcountync.gov/Vaccine or call 252-728-8550, option 2. Eligible residents can also make an appointment at CHC to receive the vaccine by calling 252-499-6185.
Contact Cheryl Burke at 252-726-7081, ext. 255; email Cheryl@thenewstimes.com; or follow on Twitter @cherylccnt.