NEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC – On Monday, August 23, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the first COVID-19 vaccine, giving the two-dose Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine full approval for individuals 16 and older. Safety and effectiveness data was thoroughly analyzed from approximately 20,000 vaccine and 20,000 placebo recipients, as well as six months of post-vaccination data from individuals that received the vaccine under the Emergency Use Authorization.
The Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine continues to be available for people ages 12 to 15 through the Emergency Use Authorization, but per recent state policy, it now requires a parent or legal guardian’s consent before receiving the vaccine.
“The full FDA approval of the Pfizer vaccine is a huge milestone and encouraging to those on the fence that this is a safe way to protect yourself and the community from COVID-19,” said Assistant Public Health Director Carla Turner. “We hope that this motivates people to get vaccinated, as we continue to see surges in new daily cases and hospitalizations from COVID-19. ICUs across the state are filling with unvaccinated COVID-19 patients. Deaths from COVID-19 are a lagging indicator of the severity of spread in our area, and we are seeing those impacts now with six deaths reported this week in New Hanover County. Each loss is felt deeply in our community. We can stop this heartache and unnecessary grief by getting vaccinated, wearing a mask, and protecting invaluable lives.”
So far in August, there has been an average of 80 new cases of COVID-19 reported per day in New Hanover County, the highest daily averages since early 2020. With widely available COVID-19 vaccines, all residents are urged to get a vaccine to help build protection from COVID-19 and to prevent severe illness or death. Public Health vaccine clinics’ hours, locations, and more information can be found at Health.NHCgov.com.
Countywide Face Covering Policy
Face coverings are required countywide in all indoor public places, as outlined in the interim Public Health order. The New Hanover County Health and Human Services Board will hold a public hearing on Tuesday, August 31, 2021 at 8 a.m. to discuss and receive public comments on the health rule that proposes a continued face covering mandate for all indoor public places within New Hanover County. The rule is meant to be a temporary measure to help reduce the spread of COVID-19, decrease hospitalizations, and protect the public’s health.
In addition to the county-wide order, New Hanover County Government has a specific Administrative Policy for Face Coverings that outlines when exemptions will and won’t be accepted on county property and at county meetings. It notes that if someone from the public is inside a county building seeking a service, they must wear a face covering unless they have an authorized exemption. However, if someone from the public is inside a county facility and is not seeking services from New Hanover County, they must wear a face covering and exemptions will not be recognized.
The administrative policy also outlines face mask requirements for New Hanover County Government meetings going forward. If someone from the public attends an indoor meeting of the Board of Commissioners, Planning Board, Health and Human Services Board, Board of Elections, or any other county board or committee, they are required to wear a face covering, and exemptions will not be recognized. Individuals who attend without a face covering will be offered one and if they refuse to wear a face covering, they will not be allowed to attend the meeting in person but will be able to view and/or listen to the meeting remotely. The ability to submit written public comments will be offered prior to all public hearings and meetings that allow for public comment.
COVID-19 Data in New Hanover County:
NHC Public Health COVID-19 Vaccine Clinics (no appointment needed)