The Wayne County Health Department has resumed COVID-19 vaccinations after supplies were delayed from winter storms that wreaked havoc in Texas.
County staff is also vaccinating teachers, child care workers and school staff and gearing up for additional groups that will become eligible for the vaccine starting March 10.
“Vaccinations resumed Wednesday and have been running every day,” said Joel Gillie, Wayne County public information officer. “For anyone who had a second dose scheduled that did not arrive, they will be receiving a call back to reschedule their second dose.”
After the county vaccination site, in the former Bussmann building, at 210 Dixie Trail, suspended vaccinations the week of Feb. 22, the county received its vaccine shipment of 1,670 doses last week, Gillie said.
County staff started calling residents on its waiting list but learned that some residents found other ways to receive the vaccine.
“We continue to call everyone on our waiting list, but we have found that many individuals got on our list and have received it somewhere else,” Gillie said. “With the ability to go anywhere to get the vaccine, we have had a number of people who registered on different lists.”
On Monday, some front-line essential workers, including Goldsboro firefighters, received the vaccine early due to vaccine appointment cancellations, Gillie said.
“They are under Phase 3b which opens March 10,” Gillie said. “We have been able to get some of them in due to cancellations and no-shows for appointments. We’re never going to waste a dose, so if we can get it in an arm, we will do it.”
Currently, teachers, child care workers, school staff, health care workers and people ages 65 and older are eligible for the vaccine. Health Department staff requested and was approved by the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services to receive additional doses for teachers, school staff and child care workers, Gillie said.
On March 10, police officers, bus drivers, grocery store workers, migrant workers and dozens of other essential workers who work in any of the state’s eight industries will be eligible to receive the vaccine.
Mary Roethling, a child care worker who lives in Goldsboro, was among 260 people who received a dose of the vaccine Monday from the health department’s vaccination clinic inside the former Bussmann building.
“It gives me freedom to work with these kids and not be afraid,” Roethling said. “I feel like the (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) and everyone’s done their due diligence that it’s safe. It’s incredibly safe, safer than the flu vaccine. I don’t see how you could not choose to take care of your family, to take care of your friends.”
In an effort to make scheduling an appointment easier, Wayne County has launched an online schedule for residents at www.waynegov.com/vaccine. Anyone who is on the county’s waiting list can use the online tool to sign up for appointments as they open, Gillie said.
Since December when the vaccine started becoming available in Wayne County, the average weekly COVID-19 case count has fallen from 944 on Oct. 27 to 356, as of Feb. 22, according to the county’s COVID-19 dashboard. There are an estimated 274 active COVID-19 cases in the county. Since March, the county has recorded 212 COVID-190-related deaths.
“Our numbers, like we have seen across the state, have been lower recently,” Gillie said. “While more people being vaccinated definitely helps, the three w’s are still important. Wear a mask, wait 6 feet apart, and wash your hands.”
As vaccinations continue, North Carolina is slated to receive more than 80,000 doses of the Food and Drug Administration-approved Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine, starting Wednesday, according to DHHS.
“A third COVID-19 vaccine means North Carolina can get more people vaccinated sooner, which will save lives and slow the spread,” said Dr. Mandy Cohen, DHHS secretary.
Similar to the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, Cohen said the Johnson & Johnson vaccine will protect against virus-related hospitalizations and death. Temporary reactions to the vaccine include a fever, headache, feeling tired or achy and a sore arm, which can last a day or two. The COVID-19 vaccines approved for use were created following decades of work on similar vaccines, according to DHHS.
The additional vaccine supply, as well as Johnson and Johnson’s vaccine being a single-dose shot, will help make the vaccine more readily available to the public.