Chatham County Health Department continues efforts to vaccinate residents against COVID-19

Pittsboro, NC – The Chatham County Public Health Department (CCPHD), along with vaccine providers like UNC Health and Piedmont Health Services, continues efforts to vaccinate eligible individuals against COVID-19 in Chatham County. According to the NC Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) COVID-19 vaccination dashboard, 8,575 Chatham residents had received their first dose of vaccine as of January 27, 2021.

Nurse Laura Parks pulls a box of COVID-19 vaccine doses from a refrigerator at the Siler City clinic. (photo courtesy of Chatham County Public Health Department)

Through January 25, the CCPHD had administered more than 1,300 first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine through appointments at its Siler City clinic, multiple mobile clinics and two mass vaccination events at the Chatham County Agriculture & Conference Center in Pittsboro. Also through January 25th, the department received a total of 1,500 doses, 200 of which were transferred to Piedmont Health Services through a partnership to enable them to begin their vaccination efforts.

This week, the CCPHD received 200 additional first doses of COVID-19 vaccine. The CCPHD scheduled appointments for 210 first doses at a mass vaccination event on Monday, February 1st (staff were able to draw a few extra doses from vials that made up the first 1,500 doses received, leaving one vial of ten doses to be added to the 200 first doses received this week for Monday’s event).

The drive-thru vaccination clinic, which is appointment-only, will run from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Monday at the Chatham County Agriculture & Conference Center in Pittsboro. Anyone who comes to the event without an appointment will be turned away. Appointments were scheduled from eligible individuals who provided information through the online vaccine tool (www.chathamnc.org/vaccinetool) and by phone. The online vaccine tool is now available in English and Spanish. In addition, the CCPHD, Chatham County Council on Aging, and Chatham Transit partnered to schedule more than a dozen appointments and organize transportation for eligible residents who do not have access to transportation. This free-of-charge transportation service provided by Chatham Transit is part of a state-initiated program to provide rides for individuals who need transportation assistance to receive a COVID-19 vaccine. More information about the statewide initiative can be found here.

“Chatham is fortunate to have wonderful organizations like Chatham County Council on Aging and Chatham Transit, both of which have been tremendous partners of ours throughout the pandemic response and now in vaccination efforts,” said Chatham County Public Health Director Mike Zelek. “Transportation should not be a barrier to getting the COVID-19 vaccine, and these partners help us as a public health department to fulfill our mission ‘to build a healthy Chatham County through community partnerships and a commitment to equity.'”

“As an old public health professional working in the field of aging, I would have never imagined how these two fields would have merged like they have in this pandemic,” added Dennis Streets, MPH, Executive Director of the Chatham County Council on Aging, a nonprofit with 46 years of service to Chatham County seniors and their families. “I am so proud of the collaboration that exists among so many individuals and organizations working to support our community’s effort to protect all residents with education, screening and vaccinations, with a special emphasis on reaching those who face barriers to healthcare. Public Health’s leadership has been so critical and effective, and I am happy that our Council on Aging has been able to play a vital role as well.”

The CCPHD has also begun administering second doses of the vaccine to those who received first doses four weeks ago. Second doses are shipped separately from first dose allocations and are held to ensure a second dose is available for those who have received their first doses. Second dose appointments are scheduled at the same time first doses are administered.

This week, NCDHHS informed providers of base allocations they will receive each week for the next three weeks. The CCPHD is slated to receive a weekly base allocation of 200 first doses over the next three weeks. NCDHHS also allocates doses each week to promote equitable access to vaccines across the state, including among historically-marginalized populations. Providers can request allocations from this supply for specific events, and the CCPHD requested and will receive 200 doses next week from NCDHHS to host a vaccination event in partnership with a faith community. More information will be shared next week.

“While we are receiving new vaccine allocations from the state, at this point they only allow us to serve a small proportion of the thousands of individuals who have reached out to us with interest in receiving the vaccine,” added Zelek. “Unfortunately, demand will far exceed supply for quite some time. In the meantime, we appreciate the Chatham community’s patience. Getting on our list does not guarantee you will receive the vaccine by a certain date, and we will continue to contact those on the list by email and/or phone as appointments become available. We also encourage everyone eligible and interested in getting the COVID-19 vaccine, including those on our contact list, to reach out to other providers.”

There are a growing number of providers in and around Chatham County, including:

  *   UNC Health is offering the COVID-19 vaccination for individuals ages 65 and older, including at its site behind Chatham Hospital in Siler City (Medical Office Building) and nearby options such as Chapel Hill. Interested individuals can visit www.unchealthcare.org/schedule  or call (984) 215-5485 to schedule an appointment when available.
  *   Duke Health, based in Durham, is also scheduling vaccinations when available. To learn more, visit https://www.dukehealth.org/covid-19-update/covid-19-vaccine-update or call (919) 385-0429.
  *   For a full list of options in North Carolina, visit https://covid19.ncdhhs.gov/findyourspot.

It continues to be important for everyone, whether or not they have been vaccinated, to take the following actions to slow the spread of COVID-19:

  *   Continue to practice the 3 Ws. COVID-19 cases remain high, and avoiding gatherings and wearing a mask continue to be important actions to avoiding infection.
  *   Get vaccine information from trusted sources, including www.chathamnc.org/coronavirusvaccine  or yourspotyourshot.nc.gov .
  *   Finally, look out for each other. This has been a stressful year for everyone. Taking care of your mental health is just as important as taking care of your physical health. If you need mental health support, visit www.chathamnc.org/mentalhealth  to find a list of resources in the Chatham area.

To learn more about the Chatham County Public Health Department, please visit chathamnc.org/publichealth or facebook.com/chathamhealth