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COVID-19 vaccine available to all over 16 Wednesday
COVID-19

COVID-19 vaccine available to all over 16 Wednesday

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On Wednesday, every person over 16 in North Carolina becomes eligible to get the COVID-19 vaccine. Catawba County Public Health and Catawba County’s local hospitals will begin taking appointment requests for every eligible person starting Wednesday.

According to Mayor Bill de Blasio, health workers in New York City administered a record number of COVID-19 vaccines last week.

Appointments for all three entities will be made through the online appointment request portal at www.CatawbaVaccine.org. Catawba Valley Medical Center, Frye Regional Medical Center and Catawba County Public Health all provide vaccination appointments through the portal, according to a press release from the health department.

Though everyone over 16 will be eligible, the vaccine is still limited. It may take weeks to get an appointment through the county’s online portal, according to the press release.

“Due to limited vaccine supply and high demand for vaccination appointments, individuals who request appointments through www.CatawbaVaccine.org should expect to wait a few weeks before appointments become available,” the release said.

The vaccine is available elsewhere — more and more providers are getting shipments of the vaccine. Other providers can be found at www.myspot.nc.gov.

For appointments with the county or local hospitals, appointment requests can only be made online. For those without internet, or who need help with the online portal, a COVID-19 referral line is available at 828-282-2002.

Vaccinations are important for all, but especially those with underlying conditions, according to the press release from public health. Nearly all county residents who have died from COVID-19 had at least one chronic condition or were over 65, according to the release.

“Because more than half of the adults in our community are affected by at least one chronic condition, tens of thousands of our county’s residents are at increased risk of complications from COVID-19,” Catawba County Public Health Director Jennifer McCracken said in the press release. “Every vaccination represents one fewer person who is at risk of experiencing severe illness or death from COVID-19 or of spreading it to someone more vulnerable.”

All three vaccines available in the U.S. — Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and Johnson and Johnson — are effective, so residents should not wait to receive the vaccine they prefer, the press release said.

The vaccine is the path to slowing the spread of COVID-19, and everyone should consider being vaccinated, McCracken said in the release.

“There are two important reasons for getting the vaccine — for your own health and for the health of others. COVID-19 is an unpredictable illness, in that some people experience only mild symptoms, while others experience severe illness that can cause hospitalization and death. Some will have it for a few days, while others will be affected for months,” McCracken said.

Gov. Roy Cooper said Tuesday that vaccination has gone quicker than expected, and the next phase will be a large step toward putting the pandemic in the past.

“This is great news, we’re getting people vaccinated more quickly than we predicted,” Cooper said. “This will help us turn a corner on the pandemic even sooner.”

So far, 25 percent of people over 18 are fully vaccinated in North Carolina, Cooper said. About 39 percent are at least partially vaccinated.

In Catawba County, 17 percent of the population is fully vaccinated and 23 percent is at least partially vaccinated, according to the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services.

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