Special to Iredell Free News
RALEIGH — Gov. Roy Cooper and N.C. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mandy K. Cohen are encouraging North Carolinians who have not done so to get their COVID-19 during the holiday season.
“North Carolina is working hard to increase the number of vaccinated people, including children who are now eligible,” Cooper said. “If you want to make your holiday gatherings safer, get your shot today – these vaccines are safe, effective and free.”
North Carolina is making progress increasing the number of vaccinated people across the state. Since Executive Order 224 went into effect requiring state employees be vaccinated or tested weekly, the vaccination rate has increased from 65 percent in mid-September to 76 percent at the end of November. State health facilities have required vaccinations for their workers to protect them and their patients, and more than 99 percent of those workers have now been vaccinated.
Younger children are also getting vaccinated following the CDC’s recent recommendation that children ages 5 to 11 receive a safe and effective lower dose COVID-19 vaccine to protect them from serious illness and complications from the virus. In North Carolina, 13 percent of children ages 5 to 11 have already received their first dose.
“Getting children vaccinated helps keep them healthy and protected from COVID-19. It’s why I got my daughters vaccinated right away,” Cohen said. “With the holidays approaching and people gathering, don’t wait to vaccinate.
Booster shots for those already vaccinated are widely available in North Carolina. The CDC recommends that everyone 18 years or older receive a booster shot to strengthen and extend protections against serious illness, hospitalization, or death from COVID-19. Pfizer or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine recipients should get a booster six months after their second dose. Those who received a single Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine should get a booster two months later.
Cooper also signed three Executive Orders this week. Executive Order 238 extends COVID-19 testing and vaccine verification policies for cabinet agencies. Executive Order 239 extends the waiver of certain transportation regulations to assist in pandemic response. Executive Order 240 gives scheduling flexibility to criminal justice training classes in case of COVID-19 outbreaks.
To date, North Carolina has administered over 13.4 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, with 68 percent of the adult population fully vaccinated. Some 72 percent of adults have received at least one dose of the vaccine, including 94 percent of North Carolinians 65 and over.
North Carolinians can learn more COVID-19 vaccinations at YourSpotYourShot.nc.gov (English) or Vacunate.nc.gov (Spanish). Visit NCDHHS’ page Walk-in Family Vaccination Sites to find a family vaccine event. Use NCDHHS’ online tool Find a Vaccine Location to find a nearby vaccination site. The North Carolina Vaccine Help Center at 888-675-4567 can also help you make an appointment. It is open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on weekdays and 8 a.m.–4 p.m. on weekends.