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Forsyth to schedule 900 more vaccine appointments. Novant plans first mass-vaccination site in Charlotte
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Forsyth to schedule 900 more vaccine appointments. Novant plans first mass-vaccination site in Charlotte

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Forsyth’s health department has 900 new appointments available for the COVID-19 vaccine. People can make those appointments beginning at 3 p.m. Saturday.

If previous rounds are any indication, the appointments likely will be filled within 20-30 minutes. The vaccinations will be given Feb. 11-13 at the Winston-Salem Fairgrounds Education Building. 

To schedule, go to www.co.forsyth.nc.us/covidupdate and click on “Schedule your COVID-19 vaccination appointment online.” for Feb. 11-13. For now, the Department of Public Health is accepting appointments only for people 65 and older and healthcare workers.

The website will send an email confirmation that will allow users to cancel the appointment if necessary. It’s important to either attend the appointment or cancel at least two hours ahead of time so staff can schedule someone else, the health department said.

Meanwhile, the Guilford County health department said it will begin at 8 a.m. Tuesday to schedule 3,800 new appointments. 

Appointments can be made at www.healthyguilford.com, which the department said is the fastest method, or by calling 336-641-7944.

Joshua Swift, Forsyth's health director, said Thursday the department has provided 21,014 vaccine doses, including 8,033 over the past seven days.

When vaccinations at Novant and Wake Forest Baptist are included, Swift said that 35,693 Forsyth residents, or 12% of the adult population, have received a first dose, along with 12,525 getting both doses.

Forsyth County's Mass-Vaccination Sites

Swift said about 75% of the doses provided by the department were given to Forsyth residents. The remaining 25% were given to people from 60 other counties, along with 10 states. The appointment process requires individuals to list their address.

"We've had people from Murphy to Manteo, and as far away as Texas, but mostly from surrounding Triad counties." Swift said.

Because the doses are being distributed by the federal government, individuals are not limited to their county and state of residence.

"We're not allowed to turn anyone away who is eligible with an appointment," Swift said.

Novant to hold Charlotte event

Novant Health Inc. confirmed Friday it will hold its first mass-vaccination site event in Charlotte at the Spectrum Center on Feb. 13.

Though the system said it has received "a separate allocation" of at least 4,000 doses from the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services for next week, it has not determined how many doses will be available at the mass-vaccination event.

"While we have comprehensive plans in place, we cannot put them into action until we understand what supply we’ll have, or that we will in fact have one, from the state to support these events," Novant said.

The uptown Charlotte arena is the home of the NBA's Charlotte Hornets.

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Novant has established a mass-vaccination site at Hanes Mall in Winston-Salem with a capacity for up to 10,000 doses per week. The system has not, however, been provided enough vaccine to hit capacity.

By comparison, Atrium Health recently held mass-vaccination events at Charlotte Motor Speedway and Bank of America Stadium where a combined 35,000 doses were administered.

Atrium, which is the parent company of Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, has not set a mass-vaccination site in Winston-Salem.

Novant said its appointment-only, mass-vaccination events will focus on vaccinating individuals ages 65 and older and health care workers. It will put an emphasis on teachers, first responders and other essential workers in that age range.

Novant said Saturday's community vaccination event at Galilee Missionary Baptist Church in Winston-Salem also will focus on teachers and other essential workers who are at least age 65. Galilee officials have identified the 150 to 200 individuals that will be vaccinated. 

Group Three rollout

DHHS said Friday it has added additional county-level demographic data for COVID-19 vaccinations on its dashboard.

Information about people who have received one or both doses is broken down by race, ethnicity, gender and age group. It does not include information on doses that have been administered through the federal long-term care centers program.

Dr. Mandy Cohen, the state's health secretary, reaffirmed Thursday it will be several weeks before DHHS recommends expanding vaccinations beyond Groups One and Two, which are individuals ages 65 and older, and health care workers.

"We have surveyed all of our vaccine providers to ask them about the demand that they are seeing from those ages 65 and older," Cohen said. "What we've heard are that the vast majority are still seeing so much demand (from Groups One and Two), so we're going to keep working hard" to get more vaccinated.

Teachers are now part of a revamped Group Three category with other essential frontline workers in sectors including food-processing and medical equipment manufacturing; food and agriculture supply chains; essential goods; government and community services; public health and social worker; public safety, first responders and law enforcement; and transportation.

No twindemic?

When the 2020-21 flu season began Oct. 1, local and state health officials were concerned about a potential "twindemic," with the flu and the COVID-19 pandemic.

The typical flu season lasts for six months, though it has lingered into mid-May in recent years.

Yet, more than four months into the 2020-21 flu season there have been just four flu-related deaths and 76 cases in the state.

By comparison, the 2019-20 flu season in North Carolina finished with 186 deaths, according to the N.C. Division of Public Health. The division does not release death counts by county, citing privacy protocols.

The number of flu-related deaths in North Carolina was 208 in 2018-19, 391 in 2017-18, 218 in 2016-17, 60 in 2015-16, 219 in 2014-15 and 107 in 2013-14.

Cohen credits the 3Ws — waiting 6 feet apart, washing hands often and wearing a mask — for "having a big impact on the spread of flu and other respiratory viruses."

"This data shows us that the spread of COVID-19 would likely be much higher if we weren't taking these measures,” Cohen said.

Additionally, the state Medicaid program has seen to date a 98.2% reduction in expense claims for Tamiflu, a drug used to treat the flu.

336-727-7376

@rcraverWSJ

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