IMPORTANT VACCINATION INFORMATION FROM NEW HANOVER COUNTY

NEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC – New Hanover County Public Health received additional supply of the COVID-19 vaccine from the state this week and is able to open additional appointments to individuals who are 75 and older, outlined as Phase 1b, Group 1 of the COVID-19 vaccination plan. Appointments are available on Thursday, January 14 and Friday, January 15 and will be limited to 955 total vaccinations based on the supply on hand.

Individuals 75 and older can call the Coronavirus Call Center at 910-798-6800 to sign up for a time slot to receive their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. The Call Center is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

With approximately 17,000 residents who are 75 and older, a high call volume for reserving time slots is expected; and there are a limited number of appointments available based on the amount of vaccine supply the county receives from the state each week.

Here are a few tips and reminders for those scheduling appointments:

  • If you call and experience a busy signal, please call back. A busy signal indicates that all available lines are full, but the call center is still operational. So continue calling back until the line rings.
  • When the line rings, you will first hear an informational message and then you will need to stay on the line for the next available call center operator. You may have to wait on hold for a bit, depending on how many people are in the queue ahead of you, so please be patient.
  • Once all available timeslots are full, a notice will be sent publicly and the call center message will be immediately updated.
  • The county is not currently taking names for a waiting list, but residents can sign up for COVID-19 updates here and will receive an email when new appointments are available and the call center is open for scheduling.

“We know there is a high demand for the vaccine, especially among those age 75 and older who are the most vulnerable, and that is good,” said Health and Human Services Director Donna Fayko. “We are working as quickly and efficiently as we can with the amount of vaccine the state has provided to us, so we ask for everyone’s patience. We have more than 25 people taking calls and scheduling appointments in our call center, we have worked through even better logistics for our sites to help alleviate lines and ensure residents are comfortable while they wait under heated tents, and so much more. There may still be wait times when you call or when you come for your reserved vaccination time slot, but we are working hard on your behalf and we are trying to keep those wait times as short as possible.”

Since December 22, when the county received its first COVID-19 vaccine shipment, Public Health has vaccinated 6,618 people in the community with their first dose and administered more than 98% of the county’s total first-dose vaccine shipments, prior to the new shipment being received this week.

Current Phase: 1b, Group 1

New Hanover County is following the NC Department of Health and Human Services’ (NCDHHS) vaccination plan, which is currently focused on individuals 75 and older (Phase 1b, Group 1).

Yesterday, the federal government offered updated guidance to states about prioritizing adults 65 and older, and NCDHHS shared that they will be looking into this new guidance and how to incorporate it moving forward. But currently, the state’s vaccination plan remains focused on healthcare workers (Phase 1a) and adults 75 and older (Phase 1b, Group 1). In addition, the federal government plans to distribute more of the vaccine, but currently the vaccine supply is still coming in limited shipments weekly, and that is not anticipated to change in the immediate future.

Residents are encouraged to stay informed and updated on local and state-wide information on the county’s website at Health.NHCgov.com and the state’s website at NCDHHS.gov.

Local Vaccine Administrators

Up until this week, New Hanover County Public Health and NHRMC have been the only authorized and active COVID-19 vaccinators in New Hanover County. Last week, the county transferred a portion of vaccines to NHRMC to begin administering to patients in their physician’s group who are 75 and older to increase the county’s reach. And this week, Wilmington Health has received approval to administer the vaccine, so the county will be transferring a portion of vaccines to them to begin administering to their patients who are 75 and older.

“Transferring a portion of our first-dose vaccines and partnering with NHRMC and Wilmington Health will further Public Health’s efforts to meet the high demand and need among our adults who are 75 and older,” said Fayko. “And we will continue this partnership in the coming months, to ensure all those in our community who need and want a vaccine can receive it, within the priorities and phases outlined by the state.”

The state also opened their enrollment system this week to allow for other health care providers to enroll and be able to administer the vaccine. Provider approvals are expected from the state in the coming weeks, which will increase the county’s ability to reach even more people through their doctor’s offices and local clinics.

Second Dose Administration

In the next week, the county will begin administering second doses to individuals who received their first dose under Phase 1a of the vaccination plan. Those individuals do not need to call the call center for their second dose appointment, and will instead receive a confirmation email from the county with a scheduled timeslot and location for their second dose.

Individuals under Phase 1b, Group 1 are being scheduled for their second dose while at the vaccination site.

Wear, Wait, Wash

Full execution of the state’s COVID-19 vaccine plan is expected to take up to nine months, so health officials encourage residents to continue to follow all protective measures like wearing a face covering, maintaining physical distance from others, avoiding gatherings, and washing hands well and often.