Coronavirus Vaccine – Mecklenburg, Charlotte COVID vaccine immunity goal changes
Mecklenburg County is no longer focused on reaching a specific herd immunity threshold and will instead emphasize vaccinating as many residents as possible against COVID-19, Public Health Director Gibbie Harris said.
Harris’ comments on Wednesday came hours after Gov. Roy Cooper toured a Charlotte vaccine clinic with city and county leaders — and a week after she acknowledged that the county may not reach the sweeping degree of protection experts once hoped for.
Herd immunity for the virus may require 65% to 85% of residents to get their shots, the Observer has reported. But for now, the governor is aiming for two-thirds of the population, Harris told reporters.
“It’s always good to have goals,” Harris said “But at this point, we really don’t know what a percentage would be for herd immunity.”
A higher percentage of people vaccinated could slow the spread of more infections and coronavirus variants, the health director said.
Dr. Meg Sullivan, the county’s medical director, said Mecklenburg’s vaccine supply now far exceeds demand. Public Health’s focus, she said, is to encourage vaccine usage and overcome hesitancy.
Still, getting two-thirds of the state at least partially vaccinated would be a big step. At that threshold, the governor has said he would lift all mask requirements. And starting on June 1, most coronavirus-related business restrictions will lift.
“People can pull together and help us to get that goal,” Cooper said during his tour of the Wilkinson Boulevard Medic COVID-19 vaccination clinic.
Mecklenburg has logged 110,819 coronavirus cases since the start of the pandemic, the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services reported Wednesday afternoon. On average, the county is adding 190 cases each day, according to an Observer analysis of state data.
Almost 350,000 Mecklenburg residents — or 31.5% of the county population — are fully vaccinated as of late Tuesday, according to N.C. DHHS.
We’ve still got a ways to go,” Harris said. “So we are continuing to vaccinate as quickly and as equitably as we can.”
The state is launching a “Bring Back Summer” campaign starting next week to encourage residents to get vaccinated as soon as possible. Charlotte plans to participate in that program, Mayor Vi Lyles said.
“We have to do more,” she said.
Recent vaccination data by ZIP codes across Mecklenburg show white communities have been immunized at a higher rate than predominantly minority communities. ZIP code 28212 in east Charlotte had the lowest inoculation rate: just 20%. Black people comprise nearly 45% of residents in that area.
ZIP code 28207 had the highest vaccination rate of 71%. Nearly 94% of residents there are white, according to an Observer analysis of census data.
Upcoming vaccine clinics
The health department and StarMed are offering multiple ongoing walk-in vaccination clinics for residents ages 16 and older, including at Bojangles Coliseum, the Sheraton Conference Center (3315 Scott Futrell Drive) and StarMed Healthcare (4001 Tuckaseegee Road).
Here are some other upcoming community events, according to the health department website at Mecknc.gov/COVID-19/Pages/Vaccine.aspx.19/Pages/Vaccine.aspx.
▪ Muslim Community Center, 9 a.m to 3 p.m. at 3116 Johnston Oehler Road; walk-ins for Pfizer only
▪ International House, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m at 1817 Central Ave.; walks-in for Pfizer or J&J
▪ Children and Family Services Care Ring 9 a.m. to 3 p.m at 601 E. 5th St. (Suite 140); walk-ins for Pfizer or J&J
▪ Catawba Brewing Company, 3-7 p.m. at 933 Louise Ave.; walk-ins or schedule online for Moderna or J&J
▪ Black Food Truck Friday, 3-8 p.m. at 5700 Westpark Drive; walk-ins or schedule online for Moderna or J&J
▪ Camp North End, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at 1803 N. Graham St; walk-ins or schedule online for Pfizer or J&J
▪ Simmons YMCA, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at 6824 Democracy Drive; walk-ins or schedule online for Pfizer or J&J
Walmart and Sam’s Club pharmacies across the Carolinas are also now accepting walk-ins for COVID-19 vaccines, the stores announced Tuesday. CVS Health on Wednesday announced walk-in appointments are also now available at 200 locations in South Carolina.