NEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC – Today, the Governor announced the state would move to Group 3 of the vaccination plan beginning Wednesday, March 3, but counties have the flexibility to determine if they are ready to move forward. At this time – New Hanover County Health and Human Services’ Public Health plans to continue vaccinating healthcare workers, adults 65 and older, and child care and school staff in the coming weeks; and does not plan to move fully into Group 3 of the state’s vaccination plan until a greater percentage of the county’s adults over 65 have been vaccinated.
Currently, according to the state’s dashboard, around 60% of those 65-74 years old and 67% of those 75+ years old have been vaccinated with first doses. The county would like for more than 72% of this population to be vaccinated with first doses before opening fully to Group 3, to achieve a level of herd immunity in that population and because older adults are among the most vulnerable to severe disease and hospitalization from the virus.
“We know that essential workers want and need the vaccine and will work toward that goal,” said Health and Human Services Director Donna Fayko. “At this time, reaching a higher level of immunity among our 65+ age group is an important public health priority. We will also continue working with our local healthcare partners to get as many people vaccinated through minority outreach events, targeted vaccination events for frontline essential workers beginning March 10, and more. But we plan to continue having our main vaccination sites and appointments open primarily for Groups 1 and 2, and education staff from Group 3, at this time. We do not have a timeline yet of when we will open Group 3 more widely, but we will continue to keep the public informed of our progress.”
This continues to be a community vaccine effort and other providers in the area may choose to begin vaccinating those in Group 3, so residents should continue to check with other providers on their available appointments. View a list of providers accepting appointments here.
The newly-authorized Janssen (Johnson & Johnson) vaccine is tested, safe and effective. It is approved for individuals 18 years of age and older and is easy to administer since it is a one-shot vaccine. Like the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, it will help prevent COVID-19 and is extremely effective in preventing hospitalization and death with no serious safety concerns. In clinical trials, the Janssen vaccine was 72% effective in preventing moderate to severe illness (after 28 days) and 86% at preventing severe to critical illness (after 28 days). For perspective, this is higher than a typical flu vaccine’s efficacy rate.
Like the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, scientists built on decades of previous work on similar vaccines to create the Janssen one-shot vaccine. There are possible temporary reactions like a sore arm, fever, headache or feeling tired and achy for a day or two.
“We hope to receive more vaccine supply from the state moving forward now that the Janssen (J&J) vaccine has been authorized by the FDA,” said Interim Public Health Director David Howard. “This new vaccine, coupled with continued supplies of the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines, will help increase our efforts and the number of people we can vaccinate each week. And each will be administered equitably and efficiently, to help increase our community’s immunity to the virus. We encourage everyone in the community to get a COVID-19 vaccine when it is your turn, because all three vaccines that are approved are very effective.”
New Hanover County does not provide a “vaccine-shopping option” for residents because Public Health utilizes any and all vaccine that is supplied from the state. When someone comes to a vaccine site for an appointment, they are informed about the vaccine they will receive at that time. But the county does not routinely announce in advance which brand is being administered on a given day or at a given location, because vaccines administered may vary throughout the day depending on supply and brand available.
Learn more about the COVID-19 vaccine, including a list of frequently asked questions, at Health.NHCgov.com/Coronavirus.