Encouragingly, vaccination rates are increasing and hospitalization rates are slightly lower in NC this week. Friends are encouraged to continue their vigilant use of masks, physical distancing and frequent hand sanitation in public especially as we are in the Spring Break season and as we continue to hear about more infectious viral variants.

Friends are encouraged to carefully read the new CDC guidelines issued last week; go to: https://tinyurl.com/yyvb9n4t These primarily open up guidelines for small (family) gatherings of fully vaccinated people interacting with non-vaccinated persons of low risk (eg. grandparents and grandchildren). These more relaxed guidelines don’t yet apply to medium or large group gatherings. Persons, vaccinated or not are still encouraged to wear masks, physically distance and wash hands frequently when in public places or in medium/ large groups of people. Symptomatic (cough, fever, shortness of breath) persons still need to be tested and treated regardless of vaccination status. Also persons in higher risk categories should be mindful that just because they are vaccinated does not mean they can have unmasked visits with individuals at higher risk for having the virus.

On checking the web sites for Cone Health and Guilford County March 16, vaccine appointments are more readily available this week. The Cone Health site allows persons to sign up for vaccine updates by giving an Email address. Another resource now available is at vaccinefinder.org which tracks what pharmacies have available vaccine within 10 miles of your zip code. A quick check of this resource today shows vaccine is at the pharmacies close to my house this week. Walgreens will let you sign up for a vaccine at Walgreens.com after setting up an account with them. The NC site which helps persons find a vaccination site is https://myspot.nc.gov/. All the information we have previously shared is still true and repeated below. NC has continued vaccinating Groups 1,2 and 3 (educators, particularly child care providers and K-12 teachers as well as other front line essential workers). Also vaccine appointments are now available for Group 4 persons who are at high risk. This would be individuals 16-64 years of age with one or more high risk medical conditions and essential workers, as well as persons living in close group settings.

Guilford County is making vaccine appointments as they receive additional vaccine allocations. Eligible persons may sign up for vaccine appointments, 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. Sign up may be done at: www.healthyguilford.com (Email address required) or by phone 336-641-7944, option 2. The vaccination sites still include Mount Zion Baptist Church, High Point Community University Center and Greensboro Coliseum. A new mass vaccine site is at Four Seasons Town Centre, where appointments can be made at GSOmassvax.org or 1-888-675-4567. This vaccine signup can also be reached through the Cone Health site. This site has been providing up to 3000 vaccinations per day which will be supplied by the federal government (not taking any from NC supplies). They have indoor or drive-up options at this site. No walk-in appointments are allowed at any of the sites mentioned and all persons have to be in the groups which are currently being vaccinated to qualify.

People can subscribe to updates about vaccine availability and appointment openings from the Guilford Health Department by texting GC19 (or GC19S for Spanish) to 888777. The Cone Health web site https://tinyurl.com/hck9mcf5 The Cone vaccine information site also has links to other county sites.

Cone does not want their patients to call their individual provider offices for vaccination appointments, however some other Health organizations like Wake Forest Baptist Health and Novant are allowing sign-ups/information for their patients through their on-line charts.

Friends are reminded that the Affordable Health Care Marketplace is open until May 15 2021 to allow persons who have lost their health care coverage during the pandemic to sign up. To research that option; go to: Healthcare.gov.