Vaccination rates continue to increase but new cases of COVID have risen slightly this week in North Carolina and in the United States. This is believed to be due to more people starting to travel and relaxation of previous policies like mask mandates. Concern is also present about vaccine variants which may be more contagious or cause more severe illness. Continue to take the now familiar precautions to prevent COVID infections. A new study released by CDC Monday is optimistic , showing that the vaccines used so far for first responders and health care personnel have reduced the risk of infection by 80-90 % 2 weeks after vaccination.
CDC guidelines explaining what activities may now be safe were issued a few weeks ago and can be found at https://tinyurl.com/yw6u66bt. These primarily relax guidelines for small (family) gatherings of fully vaccinated people interacting with non vaccinated persons of low risk (eg. grandparents and grandchildren). The 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.
Cone Health announced Monday, March 29 that they had 7000 new vaccine appointments available. The Cone Health web site is: https://tinyurl.com/347wj5mu. The Cone vaccine information site also has links to other county sites and allows persons to sign up for vaccine updates. 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 and information for their patients through their on-line patient charts.
Guilford County opened it’s vaccine on line appointment schedule for this week Monday March 29 at 6 p.m. Sign up may be done at www.healthyguilford.com (Email address required) or by phone 336-641-7944, option 2. Phone appointments must be made 8 a.m-5 p.m. The vaccination sites still include Mount Zion Baptist Church, High Point Community University Center and Greensboro Coliseum. 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 FEMA site is also delivering a robust number of vaccination appointments. This mass vaccine site is at Four Seasons Town Centre , where appointments can be made at https://tinyurl.com/4xksvmab 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 are 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.
Another resource now available is https://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 https://www.walgreens.com/ after setting up an account with them. Other pharmacies have similar sign up opportunities.
The NC site which helps persons find a vaccination site and determine eligibility is https://myspot.nc.gov/. 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.
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. Research that option at: https://www.healthcare.gov/