Pittsboro, NC – The Chatham County Public Health Department (CCPHD) is providing several updates related to the COVID-19 pandemic and vaccination efforts.
Case and Vaccination Numbers
Chatham County’s COVID-19 case numbers continue to climb, with 271 cases per 100,000 residents over the past week and nearly 9 percent of recent tests returning positive. This follows the state of North Carolina’s uptick, with more than 2,000 cases in NC reported every day in August so far.
Thankfully, vaccinations are increasing as well. As of Monday, August 23rd, 39,458 people have received at least one dose, making up 53% of the county’s population, and 36,642 people are fully vaccinated, marking 49%.
This progress in vaccination rates is good news, particularly considering new data from the NC Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS). According to COVID-19 Respiratory Surveillance data updated on Thursday, August 19, unvaccinated individuals in NC are three and a half times as likely to get COVID-19 and 4.6 times as likely to die of COVID-19 as vaccinated individuals. The data looked at the time period from January 1 to August 14, 2021.
“Vaccinations continue to be the best way to prevent serious illness and death from COVID-19,” said Chatham County Public Health Director Mike Zelek. “With more and more cases coming up every day due to the highly contagious Delta variant, it is important not to delay.”
Pfizer COVID-19 Vaccine Receives Full FDA Approval
On Monday, August 23, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) gave its first full approval for a COVID-19 vaccine. The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine has been approved for all individuals aged 16 and older. Now called “Comirnaty,” the vaccine will continue be available for individuals 12-15 years of age under Emergency Use Authorization, along with the administration of a third dose for individuals with specific conditions that make them immunocompromised.
The approval of a vaccine is a rigorous process that relies on clinical trials and thorough review of safety data and information. A recent clinical trial evaluating the Pfizer vaccine found it to be 91% effective in preventing COVID-19 with no serious safety concerns.
“Full FDA approval of a vaccine against COVID-19 is a significant achievement in our fight to end the pandemic,” added Zelek. “All three COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective, and we hope this news will lead more Chatham residents to roll up their sleeves and get vaccinated.”
The FDA has published a press release and updated its fact sheets and guidance for recipients, caregivers and providers. All are available at the FDA’s website.
New State Law on Parental/Guardian Consent for Vaccines
On Friday, August 20, Gov. Roy Cooper signed into law Session Law 2021-110. The legislation changes North Carolina law to require parental or legal guardian consent for any vaccine that has been granted Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) by the FDA without full FDA approval to an individual under 18 years of age.
This does not affect the administration of the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines since they are currently only authorized for people aged 18 and older.Individuals aged 16 and 17 can receive the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine without parental consent provided they demonstrate decisional capacity to consent to the vaccine, meaning they are able to understand and make decisions about their health.Individuals aged 12-15 must provide written parental or guardian consent prior to receiving the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine since it is still authorized under an EUA for that age group.
There are still many opportunities to receive the COVID-19 vaccine in and around Chatham County. To see a full list, visit vaccines.gov.
Testing for COVID-19
COVID-19 testing is available in many locations across Chatham County, including three StarMed sites: Monday afternoons at Central Carolina Community College (CCCC) in Siler City, Wednesday afternoons at the Goldston Town Hall (includes vaccinations), and Thursday afternoons at CCCC in Pittsboro. Residents can visit here for a full local list of options. The Chatham County Public Health Department is currently working to expand testing options in the county and will provide updates as more sites become available.
People should seek a COVID-19 test if they have COVID-19 symptoms or have been in close contact (within 6 feet for a total of at least 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period) with someone who tested positive. This includes those who are fully vaccinated.
Monoclonal Antibody Treatment
While vaccines are the best protection against serious illness, hospitalization and death, monoclonal antibody therapy can reduce the severity of COVID-19 symptoms and decrease the likelihood of hospitalization, especially in high-risk patients. If someone tests positive for COVID-19, monoclonal antibody therapy must be administered within 10 days of their first COVID-19 symptoms, so it is crucial to get tested early. If someone has recently tested positive for COVID-19 and have had symptoms for 10 days or less, they should talk to their healthcare provider to see if monoclonal antibody treatment is right for them.
If residents have any questions about the COVID-19 vaccine, they can call the CCPHD COVID-19 Vaccine Infoline at (919) 545-8323.