Roughly 1,400 Stanly County residents have received new Covid bivalent booster

Published 11:43 am Friday, October 21, 2022

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About 1,400 Stanly County residents have received the new COVID-19 bivalent booster, which became available last month and specifically targets the Omicron subvariant BA.5, the dominant version of the virus, according to the Stanly County Health Department.

The new vaccine is available at local pharmacies and the health department. The new shots are now the only boosters authorized for people ages 5 and older.

“Based on our appointments that come through here, we’ve seen an increase in our appointments” for the booster shot, said Wendy Growcock, public health education specialist with the health department. “A lot of the folks that were early adopters of vaccinations back in the beginning of 2021 and really wanted to get vaccinated, those are the folks that we’re seeing jumping on board for the bivalent booster.”

Pfizer’s bivalent booster is currently authorized for those 5 and older, and Moderna’s has been approved for use in those 6 and older, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The booster can be received at least two months after completing primary or booster vaccination.

When getting the booster shot, adults can mix and match (receive the Moderna booster even though they originally had Pfizer), but for children it is advised they choose the same vaccine that they started with, Growcock said.

Only about 2 percent of residents in Stanly County have been vaccinated with at least one booster dose, according to data from the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services. More broadly, despite vaccines having been available to the general public since early 2021, only 48 percent of the public has received at least one dose of the vaccine.

While a large portion of the public still appears hesitant about vaccinations, the health department still sees a few people each week who come to receive their first Covid vaccine.

“We had a lot of people from the beginning say, ‘I don’t have enough information yet. I’d like to find out more.’ But they have seen over time how it’s worked with the general public and I think they have built some trust in it,” Growcock said.

Going into the flu season, which Growcock predicts could be worse than previous years “due to the double whammy of Covid and flu,” she is optimistic that more people, once they learn more about it, will get the new booster.

She also encourages everyone 6 months and older to get the protective flu shot, which is available at the health department and most pharmacies.

Stanly County had 42 new Covid cases last week, according to the health department’s Facebook page, the lowest total since the first week in May, when 31 new cases were reported. There were 72 cases the week of Oct. 7 and 118 the week prior.

With hospitalizations and cases on the decline across North Carolina, more than 80 counties, including Stanly, have a low community level of transmission, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The last time Stanly had medium level of transmission was the week of Sept. 23, when there were 138 new cases.

The health department offers Moderna primary and booster shots to the public on Tuesdays from 9 a.m. to 11:10 a.m. and 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. while Pfrizer primary and booster shots are available on Wednesdays from 9 a.m. to 11:10 a.m. and 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. on Wednesdays. For children, Modern and Pfizer shots are available Mondays from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.

Due to increased demand for the booster shots, the COVID-19 hotline (980-323-0205) is back open 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.

For flu shots, people can make an appointment by calling the health department at 704-982-9171.

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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