28% of Chatham County residents had received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine

Pittsboro, NC – The Chatham County Public Health Department (CCPHD) is continuing to focus COVID-19 vaccination efforts on priority populations while StarMed Healthcare operates mass vaccination clinics in Pittsboro. More information on developments is below. 

vaccine shot
photo by Steven Cornfield

As of Thursday, March 25, 28.3% of Chatham County residents had received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine and 19.6% of county residents were fully vaccinated, according to the NC Department of Health and Human Services’ (NC DHHS) dashboard. Overall, 26.4% of North Carolinians had received at least one dose, while 15.7% were fully vaccinated. NC DHHS recently added federal pharmacy programs to its vaccination dashboard.

The state remains in Group 4a, meaning that those eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine right now include:

  • Healthcare workers
  • People age 65 or older
  • School and childcare staff
  • Frontline essential workers
  • Individuals with a chronic medical condition that puts them at a higher risk for serious illness from COVID-19
  • Individuals living in congregate settings including jails, prisons and homeless shelters who have not already been vaccinated

Gov. Roy Cooper announced Thursday that the remainder of group 4, essential workers, will become eligible on Wednesday, March 31, and Group 5, any adult who is not already eligible, will become eligible on Wednesday, April 7. To learn more about the state’s guidance and find which group you are in, visit findmygroup.nc.gov.

StarMed Healthcare continues to conduct mass vaccination clinics at the Chatham County Agriculture and Conference Center in Pittsboro. The next event will be held on Monday, March 29th and Friday, April 2nd. To be contacted when appointments are available, complete the CCPHD’s Vaccine Interest Tool (chathamcountync.gov/vaccinetool) or call the Vaccine Info Line (919-545-8323) Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. A full list of places where county residents can receive the vaccine can be found at findmygroup.nc.gov.

“Unlike the early days of vaccine distribution, supply in Chatham County and around the state is growing and more appointments are becoming available from a variety of providers. If you are eligible but have not yet moved forward with getting a COVID-19 vaccine, now is the time. If you are an adult who is not yet eligible, you will be on April 7th,” said Chatham County Public Health Director Mike Zelek.

Equity-Driven Vaccination Efforts

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 Friday, March 19th, CCPHD staff and members of the NC National Guard collaborated to vaccinate 70 staff and family members at Brookwood Farms in Siler City. The CCPHD’s clinical staff provided information about the vaccine and administered vaccines along with National Guard members. This week, the CCPHD also conducted vaccinations at the Chatham County Detention Center as well as another frontline essential workplace in Siler City.

On Saturday, March 28th, the CCPHD is planning to vaccinate more than 300 individuals through a partnership with St. Julia Catholic Church in Siler City and the Hispanic Liaison/El Vinculo Hispano. The event will focus on the Hispanic population, and the department requested and been awarded additional equity allocations from NC DHHS to carry out these efforts at community sites including the church and workplaces. CCPHD staff has been working with church staff in planning and registering individuals for the event. Other partners for the event include the Hispanic Liaison/El Vínculo Hispano, the Chatham Health Alliance, Chatham County Head Start, Chatham Literacy, and Chatham County Communities in Schools.

“Partnerships have been critical throughout the pandemic response and we are so grateful to partners like St. Julia’s and El Vínculo Hispano for making this critical work possible. We know it is on us to ensure access to vaccinations across Chatham’s diverse communities, and the Hispanic community is currently underrepresented in vaccinations both in Chatham and across the state. I appreciate the support of these partners and the ongoing dedication of our staff who have worked so tirelessly to make this and other events happen,” added Zelek.

The department has also participated in communications efforts to get the word out about the vaccine, particularly to the county’s Hispanic efforts. Paul Cuadros, a UNC professor and the boys’ soccer coach at Jordan-Matthews High School in Siler City, recorded a short video for CCPHD encouraging Hispanic/Latinx residents to be vaccinated. You can see the full video by clicking here (Spanish) or here (English). Additionally, CCPHD Public Health Nurse Evi Bonilla spoke to Good Bowls, a healthy eating nonprofit based in Hillsborough, about the safety and effectiveness of the COVID-19 vaccine. You can see the full video (which is in Spanish) by clicking here.

State Eases Some Gathering Restrictions

On March 23, 2021, Gov. Cooper signed Executive Order 204, which eased some COVID-19 restrictions statewide. The order will take effect on Friday, March 26th at 5 p.m. and is set to expire on April 30th at 5 p.m. The state’s general mask mandate remains in effect.

Executive Order No. 204 has three general categories of occupancy restrictions: up to 100 percent capacity, 75 percent capacity, and 50 percent capacity. All businesses must continue to maintain the 6 feet of distance requirement between patrons and implement other safety protocols as they expand their capacity. 

Executive Order No. 204 will also increase mass gathering limits. The number of people who may gather indoors will increase from 25 to 50 and the number of people who may gather outdoors will increase from 50 to 100. This Order also lifts the restriction on the late-night sale and service of alcoholic beverages on bars, restaurants, and other establishments. To learn more about the order and the state’s progress on vaccination, click here. Read the full FAQ on EO #204 by clicking here.

“Even with the easing of some restrictions, it remains critical that we do not let our guards down. We have seen an uptick of cases in other areas of the country, and do not want the same thing to happen in Chatham as so many work so hard to get the community vaccinated,” said Zelek. 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.