Special to Iredell Free News

RALEIGH — North Carolina providers have now administered more than 10 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine, with vaccinations trending upward as the highly contagious Delta variant of the virus spreads through the state, according to the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services.

COVID-19 vaccines are tested, safe and have been shown to be highly effective at preventing severe illness, hospitalization and death from COVID-19. Sixty-two percent of adults 18 and older in the state have received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine, while 58 percent of the adult population is fully vaccinated against the virus.

Last week, overall doses administered for COVID-19 vaccines were up more than 16 percent and first doses increased more than 30 percent compared to two weeks prior.

“Thank you to the many North Carolinians who are protecting themselves and their friends, family and neighbors by getting a safe and effective COVID-19 vaccination,” said Kody Kinsley, NCDHHS chief deputy secretary for Health. “This pandemic is not over. The Delta variant is racing across the state, fueled by high rates of unvaccinated individuals. COVID-19 vaccines are our best tool to slow the spread, save lives and put this pandemic in the rearview mirror. Don’t wait – vaccinate.”

The highly contagious Delta variant is currently spreading rapidly throughout the state and North Carolina’s COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations are increasing, particularly among those ages 18 to 49. An average of more than 5,100 new cases have been reported each day over the last week, more than doubling since July 31, 2021.

Hospitalizations have more than doubled since July 27 and are at the highest they have been since February 5, 2021.

NCDHHS recommends that everyone wear a mask in indoor public spaces if you live in area of high or substantial levels of transmission as defined by the CDC until more people are vaccinated and viral transmission decreases. In North Carolina, that is now all 100 counties.

“We are at a critical point in the trajectory of this pandemic. Layered protection is crucial to fight this more contagious Delta variant and weather the storm – vax up, mask up and urge others to do the same,” said Dr. Elizabeth Tilson, NCDHHS state health director and chief medical officer.

All unvaccinated North Carolinians age 12 and older are encouraged to get a COVID-19 vaccine to protect against severe illness, hospitalization and death. Rigorous clinical trials among thousands of people ages 12 and older have proven vaccines are safe and effective. More than 165 million Americans have been safely vaccinated. Vaccines are the best protection from COVID-19 related hospitalizations and deaths, as well as complications from the virus. Research has shown even people who had a mild case of COVID-19 may struggle with long-term effects like shortness of breath, chest pain and brain fog.

Free COVID-19 vaccines are widely available across the state to anyone 12 and older. To get a vaccine near you, visit MySpot.nc.gov or call 888-675-4567. You can also text your ZIP code to 438829 to find vaccine locations near you.

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