NEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC – New Hanover County Public Health received its first shipment of the Moderna Inc. COVID-19 vaccine today, and has begun administering the first dose of vaccines according to the county’s COVID-19 Vaccination Plan. Those vaccinated today were Public Health frontline workers who are testing for and will be vaccinating against COVID-19.
“Today is a momentous day for our community and I am grateful to our Public Health team who have been in the forefront, serving our residents since day one of COVID-19,” said New Hanover County Board of Commissioners Chair Julia Olson-Boseman. “In the coming days, our team will be giving this vaccine to staff and residents in long-term care facilities, who are among the most vulnerable and hardest hit by the virus. This will bring hope to so many and will help us begin to really fight back against this virus.”
Panza Allen McNeill, RN, BSN, was the first person to receive the first dose of the Moderna vaccine in New Hanover County today. Allen McNeil has been a nurse with New Hanover County Public Health for 19 years. She has been providing COVID-19 testing to residents, and in the coming days will be providing COVID-19 vaccines in long term care facilities and others outlined in phase one of the COVID-19 Vaccination Plan.
“The COVID-19 pandemic continues to be the fight of our lives, but the arrival of the vaccine gives a glimpse of light at the end of the tunnel,” said Allen McNeill. “I am excited, and very honored to be among the first to receive a COVID-19 vaccine dose in New Hanover County, and I’m ready to continue the fight. My hope is that others will see myself and my colleagues take the vaccine and feel more comfortable making the decision to be vaccinated themselves. I encourage everyone to seek out research and studies on these vaccines and get your questions answered.”
Also among the first to be vaccinated today was Public Health nurse Oliver Grimsley, RN, who has helped lead the county’s COVID-19 testing efforts and has served with the county for 18 years.
“It’s a relief to see my colleagues be vaccinated against this virus that we’ve been fighting for 10 months, and will continue to fight,” said Grimsley. “I’m honored I joined them today in taking this step to move our community forward.”
Approximately 4,800 Moderna vaccine doses were received at New Hanover County Public Health for the county to first administer at long term care facilities, and to first responders and healthcare workers who are at highest risk of exposure to COVID-19. Teams of Public Health staff will deploy to facilities over the holiday weekend and continue throughout the first phase of vaccine distribution. Phase 1a is expected to take several weeks, and the entire plan to take approximately nine months.
“In the coming months, Public Health will be setting up sites for vaccine administration, many physician offices will eventually have the vaccine to be able to administer, and we will be working with community partners and healthcare providers to ensure we get the vaccine to as many people who want it,” said New Hanover County Health and Human Services Director Donna Fayko. “Not everyone will get the vaccine right away, this will take time. So we ask for everyone’s patience and continued vigilance in staying safe and healthy in the meantime.”
As the county transitions into new phases of the vaccine plan and more people are able to receive the vaccine based on priority, additional information will be shared with the community. Photos of today’s vaccinations can be viewed on the county’s Flickr page. For continuously-updated FAQs and New Hanover County’s COVID-19 Vaccination Plan, visit Health.NHCgov.com/Coronavirus.
COVID-19 in New Hanover County
New Hanover County had another record day of COVID-19 cases reported on Friday, December 18, with 198 new cases. As of today, 8,982 COVID-19 cases have been reported in New Hanover County, with about 1,384 residents currently infected. One death was reported to Public Health this week, an individual in their 70’s with underlying health conditions. This brings the total number of New Hanover County residents who have died from COVID-19 to 77. Public Health officials are currently monitoring seven outbreaks and two clusters of COVID-19 in the community.
“While we celebrate the development of COVID-19 vaccines and see people start to get them, it’s imperative to remember that COVID-19 is still here, and cases are rising,” said Assistant Health Director Carla Turner, RN, MSHCA. “We must continue to do everything we can to slow the spread. This holiday season especially, keep gatherings to those in your household, and when outside of your home, follow the three Ws to protect yourself and others. We want everyone to see the end of the pandemic, so don’t let a moment of poor judgement take that away from someone.”
Guidance on testing resources, vaccine information, and ways to celebrate the holidays while slowing the spread of COVID-19 can be found at Health.NHCgov.com/Coronavirus.
Coronavirus Call Center Holiday Hours
The New Hanover County Coronavirus Call Center continues to operate Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. The Call Center will follow the county’s holiday schedule and be closed Thursday, December 24 through Monday, December 28, open Tuesday, December 29 through Thursday, December 31, then closed January 1, 2021.
To view the most recent case count data, information, updates and resources in New Hanover County, visit Health.NHCgov.com/Coronavirus, call our Public Health Coronavirus Call Center at 910-798-6800, and follow the county’s trusted social media pages: Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Nextdoor.