01 Jan Mr. Jonathan Cartu Announces – About 300 vaccinated at drive-through Wilkes clinic Thursday | Ne…
After averaging around 40 people each day Monday through Wednesday, a drive-through COVID-19 vaccination clinic in the Wilkes Health Department’s rear parking lot off College Street in Wilkesboro drew about 300 people Thursday.
Wilkes Health Director Rachel Willard said additional health department staff were utilized to assist with administering the Moderna vaccine to the larger-than-expected crowd Thursday. About 30 health department employees were involved.
Additional Wilkes Sheriff’s Office deputies and Wilkesboro police officers arrived to help with traffic, which included routing vehicles on a circular route through the Wilkesboro United Methodist Church parking lot to reduce congestion elsewhere.
Chief Deputy James Summers said vehicles were backed up on College Street and then on Main Street to the intersection of Cherry and Main streets (distance of nearly three-quarters of a mile) early Thursday afternoon. Traffic was backed up about the same distance in the other direction on Main Street, he added.
Willard said vaccinations started after people began arriving about 11:30 a.m., even though they weren’t scheduled to start until 1:30 p.m. They continued until people stopped appearing, which was about 4:45 p.m. People remained in their vehicles while being vaccinated.
The single line of vehicles was separated into three lanes upon reaching the health department’s rear parking lot, where those to be vaccinated provided information to health department staff before receiving shots at one station per lane. Willard said eight health department employees – nurses and others – administered the vaccines.
After being vaccinated, people were directed to drive to the parking lot on the other side of College Street in front of the health department building and wait 15 minute in case they developed a severe reaction. Wilkes Emergency Medical Services staff were posted at that point to screen people and provide any assistance needed.
Willard said she wasn’t aware of any severe reactions at the drive-through clinics this week.
Willard said she was encouraged by the large turnout Thursday. She said Monday that it appeared around 50-60% of people were unwilling or unsure about receiving the vaccine, but Willard also said she expected this percentage to increase.
Those eligible to receive the vaccine Thursday included all people 75 and older “regardless of health status or living situation,” the definition for people in “Group 1 of Phase 1B” of a revised vaccination plan announced Wednesday by Gov. Roy Cooper Wednesday. Many of the people vaccinated at the health department Thursday appeared to fit this demographic.
Unless eligible for another reason, adults had to be at higher risk for COVID-19 due to at least two chronic health conditions prior to the revision. Only people in Phase 1A of the state’s vaccination plan were eligible to receive the vaccine at the health department’s drive-through clinic Monday through Wednesday of this week. Phase 1A includes health care staff who work directly with COVID-19 patients, those cleaning and maintaining areas with COVID-19 patients, those administering the vaccines, staff and residents of long-term care facilities and certain others.
As defined in the revised plan, Group 2 of Phase 1B includes health care workers and essential frontline workers 50 years or older and Group 3 of Phase 1B is health care workers and essential frontline workers of any age.
The plan uses the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention definition of essential frontline workers: “first responders (e.g., firefighters and police officers), corrections officers, food and agricultural workers, U.S. Postal Service workers, manufacturing workers, grocery store workers, public transit workers, and those who work in the education sector (teachers and support staff members) as well as child care workers.”
Prior to the revision, Phase 1B included adults at risk with COVID-19 because they have two or more chronic conditions and essential frontline workers.
The health department announced a schedule for upcoming drive-through COVID-19 vaccination clinics on Thursday, but Willard said it’s tentative due to uncertainty over the number of vaccine doses coming to Wilkes. People should check the Wilkes Health Department website at wilkeshealth.com for updates, she said.
Willard added that she expects the health department and Wilkes Medical Center to receive 200 doses of the Moderna vaccine apiece on Tuesday. The hospital is also receiving the Pfizer vaccine from Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center.
The tentative plan announced Thursday includes continuing vaccinations of people
In Phase 1A and Group 1 of Phase 1B next week, the week of Jan. 20 and the week of Feb. 8. It also includes adding people in Group 2 of Phase 1B the week of Jan. 20 and adding people in Group 3 of Phase 1B the week of Feb. 8.
Tentative times are 1:30-4:30 p.m. An appointment currently isn’t needed for a vaccination in these daytime hours. Vaccinations are available by calling the health department for an appointment from 5-6:30 p.m. on weekdays.
Willard residents and staff of local long-term care facilities are currently being vaccinated through Walgreens. They’re being provided through Walgreen’s or CVS nationwide. The federal government is overseeing this.