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Health Department vaccinated more than 50 youth this week

Stanly County Health Department began vaccinating kids ages 12 to 15 Wednesday with the Pfizer vaccine at Stanly County Commons.

Of the 131 patients who received first doses of the vaccine, 53 were young people between the ages of 12 and 18, said Jennifer Layton, a human services program specialist with the department.

“We’ve had some parents that have been eager and their kids have been eager to get their vaccine, whether it’s for safety, for other family members or for themselves and that’s great,” Layton said.

This comes after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration last week expanded the emergency use authorization for the Pfizer vaccine for use in 12- to 15-year-olds.

The COVID-19 vaccine is free for the recipient. The Pfizer vaccine is the only vaccine in the United States available to people under the age of 18. The Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines are available to anyone age 18 and older.

The health department has also been working with Stanly County Schools to bring a special vaccine clinic to Albemarle Middle School, sometime toward the end of June, as part of the school system’s summer enrichment program.

Layton mentioned that Stanly Community College is planning to host two vaccine clinics this summer — one for employees and their families and one for students.

Due to a decrease in the demand for vaccinations over the past few weeks, the department is now administering first doses only once a week and second doses twice a week.

The department has not received any new doses from the state in weeks, but still has enough Pfizer doses on hand to continue vaccinating the public.

“We’ll continue to offer vaccine access. It’s just limited to one day a week right now for first doses and we’ll gauge interest from there,” Layton said.

In order to not waste any vaccine, she said the department is being careful with how much is appropriated to be used for a clinic.

“We’re going to be very cautious with it and strategic in how we plan clinics and try to pull out only what we plan to administer at the time,” Layton said.

The department continues to encourage people to become vaccinated. Health officials are traveling to local businesses to vaccinate employees.

According to the latest data from the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, 52 percent of adults in the state have gotten at least one dose of the vaccine. A little less than half, 47 percent, are fully vaccinated.

About 26 percent of Stanly County residents (16,270) have been partially vaccinated while about 24 percent (14,957) are fully vaccinated, according to NCDHHS data. The county health department, as of Thursday, has administered 12,978 first doses and 11,648 second doses.

Within the next month or so, “we’re looking at about 50 percent at least being fully vaccinated,” Layton said, adding that the department is still aiming to eventually vaccinate 80 percent of the population.

In terms of people who are at least partially vaccinated, white people in Stanly have accounted for 85 percent, Black people have accounted for about 11 percent and Hispanics about 4 percent.

“Demographically, our vaccination rates essentially match our population demographics and that’s great because some counties don’t have that,” Layton said.

What concerns Layton is that males have accounted for only about 45 percent of all vaccinations, even though they account for 50 percent of population. She noted the one age group that’s been lagging are those ages 25 to 49, who work and can’t find time to get vaccinated.

“We really have to work hard to make it appealing to that age group or try to assuage any concerns or fears,” she said.

Since March of last year, Stanly has had 7,849 lab-confirmed cases and 142 people have died. As of Thursday, there were eight new cases and two people were hospitalized with COVID.

Stanly’s rolling seven-day average positivity rate is at 5.4 percent, per the state Health and Human Services Department, higher than the state’s current average of 3.4 percent.

Statewide, there have been 13 million tests conducted resulting in at least 995,754 cases. A total of at 763 people were reported hospitalized Thursday, and 12,958 people have died.

About Chris Miller

Chris Miller has been with the SNAP since January 2019. He is a graduate of NC State and received his Master's in Journalism from the University of Maryland. He previously wrote for the Capital News Service in Annapolis, where many of his stories on immigration and culture were published in national papers via the AP wire.

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