Teaser: Vaccine

Nearly a quarter of all Moore County residents have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, according to data from the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services.

The agency said 22,443 people, or about 22.2 percent of the county’s total population, have received either both doses of the two-shot vaccines developed by Pfizer and Moderna or the single-shot vaccine from Johnson & Johnson as of Wednesday. An additional 8,271 residents are waiting to receive their second shots, DHHS said.

Moore County’s vaccination rate is higher than the state overall. DHHS said only 17.6 percent of all North Carolinians had been fully vaccinated as of Wednesday.(The number of fully vaccinated adults is 22.5 percent.)

The county is also seeing a greater rate of vaccination among older adults. About 57 percent of the county’s shots have gone to residents aged 65 and older. The same age group accounts for 46 percent of injections recorded across the state.

Both the local health department and FirstHealth of the Carolinas recently extended vaccine eligibility to all adults in Moore County, but most counties are still administering shots to residents in Groups 1 through 4B — the only groups currently eligible under the statewide guidelines set by DHHS. Some people in these groups include older adults, health care and frontline essential workers and individuals with medical conditions that put them at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19.

The extended eligibility means that Moore has jumped ahead to Group 5, a population that basically includes any resident who wants to get vaccinated. Under the state’s plan, people in Group 5 will not be eligible for shots until April 7.

While all of the currently available vaccines have proven to be effective when it comes to preventing illness, a new study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests that the vaccines developed by Pfizer and Moderna are also 90-percent effective in preventing infection.

The Moore County Health Department is administering shots by appointment at its office and at the neighboring Agricultural Center building in Carthage. In order to receive an appointment, residents must call (910) 947-7468 from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Tuesdays or from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. The vaccine hotline is not staffed on Mondays or weekends.

The department said individuals without transportation can arrange a ride to their appointment through Moore County Transportation Services. For information, call 910-947-3389.

FirstHealth of the Carolinas is also holding twice-a-week vaccination clinics at the Fair Barn in Pinehurst. Appointments must be scheduled online at schedule.firsthealth.org.

A total of 8,377 cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in Moore County since the start of the pandemic, and at least 188 residents have died in connection with the disease.

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