3/2/21: DARE COUNTY NOW ACCEPTING VACCINE REQUESTS FROM ALL FRONTLINE ESSENTIAL WORKERS; Bulletin Pre-empts Governor’s Announcement on Eligibility for Group 3; 80,000 Doses of J&J Vaccine to Arrive In State This Week; N.C. Emergency Director Praises Dare’s Operation.

All frontline essential workers may now register for COVID-19 vaccination in Dare County, according to a bulletin posted online today by the county’s Dept. of Health and Human Services—two hours before Governor Roy Cooper announced at a press briefing that all such essential workers, not just those in schools, will be “eligible” for vaccination statewide starting tomorrow.

Thanks to an increase in Dare County’s vaccine allocations from the State for the next three weeks, the DCDHHS has been able to offer appointments to all people age 65 or older who were on its waiting list and is ready to move into “Phase 3” of the rollout, the DCDHHS bulletin said, pre-empting the Governor’s announcement this afternoon about the vaccination eligibility of all remaining “Group 3” workers.

Vaccine administration in North Carolina has been “fast and fair,” Governor Cooper said during his COVID-19 update, and has been a model for the rest of the nation. More than 60 percent of “seniors” in North Carolina, he said, “have received a vaccine.”

The Governor permitted child-care and pre-K to grade 12 school workers—who constitute a subset of Group 3 frontline essential workers—to start receiving vaccines on Feb. 24, in order to accelerate a return to in-person learning in the public schools.

Remaining Group 3 frontline essential workers include people who work in the following fields, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: critical manufacturing, essential goods—including grocery stores, pharmacies, food service (restaurants, bars), and gas stations—government, community service organizations, churches, public health, public safety, and transportation.

For a list of workplaces and/or industries, see the N.C. Dept. of Health and Human Services’ website at https://covid19.ncdhhs.gov/vaccines/find-your-spot-take-your-shot/deeper-dive-group-3#frontline-essential-worker-frontline-essential-workers.

Dr. Mandy Cohen, Secretary of the N.C. Dept. of Health and Human Services, referred to such workers at today’s briefing as people who “cannot be home to do their jobs.” They not only must come into their workplaces to work, they also must come into contact with customers. 

To register for vaccination as a frontline essential worker in Dare County, go to the DCDHHS’s website at www.darenc.com/covidvaccine and complete a vaccination request form. You will be called by a health department staff person about scheduling an appointment.

According to the Governor, the State will move into Phase 4/Group 4 of the vaccine rollout, which includes people with medical conditions that put them at greater risk for serious illness if they are exposed to COVID-19, on March 24.

The Governor also announced that North Carolina will receive this week 80,000 doses of the newly FDA-approved one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which he described as “more easily stored” than the Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna vaccines that have been in use in North Carolina.

Next week, according to Dr. Cohen, however, the State will not receive any more doses of the J&J vaccine. Its allotted supply will vary from week to week.

Dr. Cohen described the State’s supply of Moderna and Pfizer vaccines as “improving.” This week, she said she expects to receive a combined 300,000 doses of the J&J vaccine and first doses of the other two vaccines. These are in addition to the second doses that must be sent.

HATS OFF TO DARE COUNTY

Thanks to a question by Sam Walker of OBX Today, Michael A. Sprayberry, director of Emergency Management for the State of North Carolina, elaborated upon a visit he made to Dare County’s COVID-19 vaccination site in Kill Devil Hills last Friday.

Mr. Sprayberry explained that he has been visiting some of the better-run vaccination sites in order to pick up “some best practices” for a mass vaccination site that the State and the Federal Emergency Management Agency will be operating together in Greensboro for eight weeks.

According to the Governor, the FEMA site will administer 3,000 vaccines per day during its operation.

Mr. Sprayberry complimented the Dare County vaccination site as a “very efficient operation” with “a lot of volunteers” and said that the “attitude” of everyone involved, including vaccine recipients, “was phenomenal.”

The emergency director said he had met with Dr. Sheila Davies, director of the DCDHHS, and with County Manager Bobby Outten.

Mr. Sprayberry also said he recently visited a vaccination operation at Moorehead City, which is a port town in Carteret County near Beaufort.

“Hats off to the folks in Carteret and Dare counties!” he exclaimed.

Indeed. For the first time in six months–since Aug. 30, 2020–the DCDHHS dashboard reported no new COVID-19-positive tests.  

Ann G. Sjoerdsma, 3/2/21

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