NEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC – To help slow the spread of COVID-19 and keep young people protected, the FDA and CDC authorized COVID-19 booster doses for children ages 5-11 earlier this week, and today the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services has issued guidance for the booster’s administration. So the New Hanover County Pandemic Operations Center (located at 1507 Greenfield Street) will begin administering these booster doses beginning today, Friday, May 20, at 1 p.m. Appointments are recommended but not required and can be made by visiting TakeMyShot.NC.gov.
“A booster shot helps a person prolong their protective immunity against the virus and there is robust data that this booster for children is safe and important especially given our current COVID climate with cases rising,” said Pandemic Operations Manager Jon Campbell. “As a parent myself, it is something I have researched extensively to ensure its safety and efficacy, and I am confident that it is. Healthcare experts, the FDA and CDC all agree. And because immunity from the original vaccine fades over times, this is an important boost our children need to remain safe from the virus.”
In addition this week, the Federal Government reactivated the COVID-19 home test kit distribution program. All households are eligible to order up to eight at-home COVID-19 tests by visiting Covid.gov/tests. At-home COVID-19 tests are also available for pick up at the New Hanover County Pandemic Operations Center while supplies last.
The Pandemic Operations Center also continues to offer no cost rapid testing. An appointment is recommended and can be made by visiting this link, but it is not required. Rapid tests will be available during the following days and times: Wednesdays from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. and Fridays from 9 a.m.-noon.
The New Hanover County Pandemic Operations Team continues to track metrics measuring the local spread of COVID-19 and is keenly focused on variants around the country, to predict future surges in our community.
Over the past month, New Hanover County’s percent positivity for testing has risen from 3 percent on April 8 to 16.9 percent as of May 20, and the total number of cases reported within a 14-day window has gone from 150 to 621 during that same time frame.
While BA.2, a variant of Omicron, remains the most prevalent version of the COVID virus being detected in New Hanover County, developing variants from other parts of the world have been detected in the United States. Both BA.4 and BA.5 variants have been seen in America in small numbers, and while it’s expected that the recent BA.2 surge will likely provide a degree of protection due to natural immunity and vaccines, there is still the risk of impacting the local healthcare system if rates continue to climb.
“New Hanover County is continuing to see an infection surge and experts believe impacts on the national healthcare system will likely peak in 3-4 weeks. Combining a healthy lifestyle, minimizing the risk for exposure and remaining up to date on COVID-19 vaccination provides the best protection against severe illness which helps limit the impact to our healthcare system,” said Campbell. “Our Pandemic Operations Team will continue to monitor both local and global trends to determine the impacts on New Hanover County and work to keep our community informed and equipped for infection surges.”
Vaccines and boosters for all eligible individuals are available at the Pandemic Operations Center throughout the week. Appointments are recommended but not required and can be made by visiting TakeMyShot.NC.gov. Vaccines and boosters will be available during the following days and times:
For more information on the Pandemic Operations Center, vaccines, boosters or testing, visit Health.NHCGov.com/Coronavirus or call the Coronavirus Call Center at 910-798-6800.
Following its weekly review of county-specific data, the CDC has kept New Hanover County at a low COVID-19 community level. Recommended precautions for this level include being fully vaccinated and boosted, and testing for COVID if you develop symptoms. Mask usage at this community level is optional. The CDC plans to update community levels weekly, so residents can check the CDC website here to know the current community impact level.