Pittsboro, NC – The Chatham County Public Health Department (CCPHD) is continuing to focus COVID-19 vaccination efforts on priority populations while working with StarMed Healthcare to continue to operate mass vaccination clinics in Pittsboro. To date, over one-quarter of Chatham residents have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.
The CCPHD continues to ramp up its efforts to ensure all Chatham residents, with a focus on marginalized communities and those with barriers to accessing traditional options, are able to get the COVID-19 vaccine when it is their turn. On Monday, March 17, the department provided first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine to 18 homebound seniors at their residences across Chatham County. Over the past several weeks, CCPHD staff have worked with community partners including the Chatham County Council on Aging and through its call center to identify with members of the Chatham County community who are unable to leave their homes to get the vaccine. Staff and members of the NC National Guard administered the vaccinations, and will return to these homes in four weeks for second doses.
The CCPHD also requested and will receive additional equity-focused allocations from the NC Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) to conduct vaccinations focused on the Hispanic population. As of March 13th, 37% of Chatham’s COVID-19 confirmed cases have occurred among this group, more than triple the percentage of the county’s population that is Hispanic. The CCPHD has been making intentional efforts to reach the Hispanic population with resources, information and testing since last March, and will focus some of its allocations to ensure the Hispanic community has access to COVID-19 vaccine. The department is coordinating with workplaces and community and healthcare partners to vaccinate frontline essential workers and Chatham residents with serious medical conditions.
StarMed Healthcare has now operated two mass vaccination clinics at the Chatham County Agriculture and Conference Center in Pittsboro, with another scheduled for Saturday, March 20th. Staff at the clinics have administered approximately 750 first and second doses to date, with 600 first doses scheduled for Saturday. To be contacted when appointments are available, complete the CCPHD’s Vaccine Interest Tool (chathamcountync.gov/vaccinetool) or call the Vaccine Info Line Monday-Thursday, 10 AM-4 PM.
“This partnership with StarMed has meant mass vaccination events can continue and expand depending on allocations, including scheduling a vaccination clinic this Saturday, while allowing us to focus on targeted efforts to reach those with access barriers as well as marginalized communities. We are also working with frontline essential employers to get those at higher risk of exposure vaccinated later this week, and planning additional events to reach the Hispanic/Latinx population. These efforts take time, partnership, and extra effort, but they are critical to public health and the well-being of the Chatham community,” said Mike Zelek, Chatham County Public Health Director.
Prioritization and Guidance Changes
On Wednesday, individuals ages 16-64 with medical conditions that put them at high risk for severe COVID-19 disease and individuals who are homeless, living in a homeless shelter or incarcerated in a correctional facility became eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine as the first phase of Group 4. The NCDHHS lists the high-risk conditions as, among others:
- Asthma (moderate to severe)
- Diabetes (type 1 or 2)
- Heart conditions
- Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, including Down Syndrome
- Overweight or obesity
- Smoking (current or former, defined as having smoked at least 100 cigarettes in their lifetime)
Governor Cooper added on Wednesday that the rest of Group 4 would become eligible to receive the vaccine in North Carolina on April 7th. Along with individuals living in student housing or other group living settings not yet eligible, the rest of Group 4 eligible on April 7th includes essential workers in fields such as:
- Chemical and commercial facilities
- Communications and information technology
- Financial services
- Hygiene products and services
- Public works and infrastructure support services
- Water and wastewater
For more on Group 4, including full lists, visit here.
The CCPHD continues to urge residents to wear a face covering, wash their hands regularly and wait six feet apart. New COVID-19 cases are continuing to be reported, and there are concerns about the spread of variants that have shown to be more contagious than past strains. More than one year into the COVID-19 pandemic, it is important that we continue to protect ourselves and others in our community.
To learn more about the COVID-19 vaccine and the CCPHD’s vaccination plans, visit chathamcountync.gov/coronavirusvaccine. To learn more about the Chatham County Public Health Department, visit chathamcountync.gov/publichealth or facebook.com/chathamhealth.