Catawba County residents over age 65 can now get the COVID-19 vaccine from Catawba County Public Health.
The change comes with new recommendations from the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, according to a press release from Catawba County Public Health. Before Thursday, the health department was vaccinating anyone over age 75 along with health-care workers. Health-care worker vaccinations are being coordinated by employers, according to the press release.
Because of the new increase in the number of residents eligible for the vaccine, the health department is expecting an extremely high call volume on the appointment line and a longer wait period to get the vaccine, the press release said. The phone system is being expanded and specialists are being added to make appointments.
Anyone who calls during the hours the phone line is open — 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays — and gets a recorded message should stay on the line until someone answers, the release said. If they are unable to get through, call back later.
"We urge callers to not panic if they are not immediately able to get through to make their appointment," the release said. "We ask those people to please call back in a few hours or on another day when call volume may not be as high. We ask that people do not call multiple times in a row, as this will continue to overwhelm the system."
Public health is scheduling appointments in line with how much vaccine it is expecting to receive each week. So far, Catawba County has received 15,600 doses of the vaccine, according to information from NCDHHS. There are 5,136 county residents who have received at least one dose of the vaccine. A total of 6,051 doses have been administered to county residents.
As part of the statewide effort to increase the speed at which the vaccine is being distributed, about 45,000 doses are expected to be given through large vaccine events in several select counties, the state announced Thursday.
The state is partnering with health departments and health-care providers to hold vaccine events in 23 counties, according to a press release from NCDHHS.
The nearest counties to Catawba County that will have events are Buncombe County, Mecklenburg County and Guilford County.
Other counties that will have vaccination events are: Bertie, Brunswick, Cabarrus, Camden, Chatham, Chowan, Currituck, Durham, Forsyth, Gates, Henderson, Hertford, Johnston, Madison, Orange, Pasquotank, Perquimans, Pitt, Rowan and Wake.
Some locations will require appointments. Information for each county can be found at www.covid19.ncdhhs.gov/findyourspot.
To deliver the mass vaccinations, the state will partner with health systems like Novant Health, Duke Health, UNC Health, Vidant Health and Atrium Health in several counties, along with smaller health centers and county health departments.
The partner organizations were chosen based on their ability to administer a large number of vaccine doses or their ability to get vaccine doses to marginalized communities, according to the NCDHHS press release.
“The state will continue to support our local health departments and hospitals to get shots in arms faster,” NCDHHS Secretary Mandy Cohen said in the release. “These partners were selected because they were able to rapidly increase the number of vaccines they could deliver as part of this effort.”
Catawba County reported 101 new cases on Thursday, according to Catawba County Public Health.
The county has seen 13,540 total cases of the coronavirus since the pandemic began.
Two new deaths were reported on Thursday, putting the county total at 205. There are 107 county residents hospitalized with the virus.
Statewide, 9,853 new cases were reported on Thursday, bringing the state total to 650,926. There are 3,990 people hospitalized with the virus and 7,825 have died.