Vaccine demand decreasing in Triad concerning to health professionals

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RANDOLPH COUNTY, N.C. — With nearly half of North Carolina adults vaccinated, the attention has turned to eligible teens and college students, who, statewide, have shown reluctance to get their shot.

As of Tuesday, 35 percent of North Carolinians fully vaccinated, with 47 percent of adults having at least one vaccination shot.

However, the state has begun to see a slowdown in people getting their shot, and it has become concerning to health professionals.

The biggest concern for Dr. David Priest, with Novant Health, is a plateau of vaccination percentages.

“Those that remain are the ones who have not been as eager to be vaccinated,” he said, of most of the remaining eligible population in the state who have not been vaccinated.

He cited, while there are some cases of adults not having found the time to get vaccinated, hesitancy is up in the state; especially following the halt of the Johnson & Johnson one-dose shot.

In the early days of doses, there was a mad rush for appointments, but that rush has slowed down drastically.

In Randolph County, for example, Randolph Health announced on Facebook it would no longer be giving first doses of the shot after the scheduled appointments are finished.

April Thornton, with the health center, said of the past few weeks, “We can’t fill our clinics without really, really working hard to do so.”

Randolph Health did not order its allocation of first doses from the state this recent go-around. The hospital still has roughly 100 vaccines on hand. After those are administered, the hospital will no longer do vaccinations while the demand remains low.

If demand increases, Randolph Health will resume vaccinations.

Thornton said the decrease in demand could be contributed to several things, including hesitancy, and the increase in locations for vaccinations.

“Part of the decline, we think, is that there are way more vaccine locations. There are way more resources, Walgreens, CVS, Walmart is doing it,” Thornton said.

The Randolph County Health Department also did not up its allocation from the state this latest go-around. That is because it still has 500 doses from its April 5 delivery.

While there are more places to get vaccinated, the county still has a lower than the state average for adults vaccinated, with 22 percent having at least one dose, and 18 percent being fully vaccinated.

Data shows that across the state, younger adults are not only hesitant about vaccinations but are driving up the number of positive cases.

“We don’t want people to get hospitalized when we have a vaccine across the street that could have prevented it,” Priest said.

He stressed that to reach herd immunity, there must be between 70 to 75 percent of the population vaccinated.

“We don’t want to plateau at 25-35 percent. We really need 70 to 75 percent to bring this thing to an end. The longer it takes the get the virus under control, the more time it takes for mutations and variants,” Priest said.

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