At Thursday’s North Carolina Association of Local Health Directors (NCALHD) meeting, local health departments were informed that the state of North Carolina will be shipping additional COVID-19 vaccine doses to county health departments over the next few weeks that are to be administered among minority populations in each county. The state will add 200 additional doses to Moore County’s weekly allotment for the next three weeks in an effort to address racial and ethnic vaccination disparities.
The state’s move to prioritize equity in vaccine distribution has been driven by data that shows the rate at which people of different races and ethnicities are getting the COVID-19 vaccine is much lower when compared with their overall population in each county.
During news conferences last Tuesday and Thursday, Governor Roy Cooper noted that there has been improvement in vaccine distribution with North Carolina minorities, particularly among North Carolina’s Black population, but there is still much work left to be done. As of Thursday, Black people accounted for nearly 15% of those vaccinated in North Carolina, a number that was up from 11% a month ago but is still far lower than the state’s total Black population of 22%.
“Communities of color have been disproportionately impacted by this devastating pandemic, and the state is working to reduce the high rates of sickness this population is experiencing,” said Governor Cooper. Locally, the vast majority of individuals that have been vaccinated thus far in Moore County have been white, accounting for just over 90% of all first doses that have been administered. Conversely, only 6.6% of Blacks and 1.3% of Hispanics in Moore County have been vaccinated – numbers that are much lower than their total county populations of
12% and 7.1%, respectively.
“We continue to work with our community partners here in Moore County to engage our communities of color and encourage vaccination,” says Health Director Robert Wittmann. “We want to ensure equity and provide our historically marginalized populations with access to these safe, effective vaccines.”
The state has committed to providing Moore County Health Department with 200 additional vaccine doses each week for the next three weeks to serve the underserved population. The health department plans to exhaust the extra doses each week by scheduling vaccine clinic appointments for individuals who are listed as racial and ethnic minorities within Groups 1 and 2 that have pre-registered through the county’s online portal at www.moorecountync.gov/shot or through the pre-registration call center at 910-947-SHOT (7468). To aid in this effort, the health department will add additional demographic questions to the county’s online pre-registration document. The questions will be added after 5 p.m. on February 18.
The health department has also solicited assistance from community partners with promoting vaccination and by providing the department with a list of individuals in the underserved population who are eligible for vaccination under Groups 1 and 2. The department will directly contact people on this list and offer them a vaccine appointment as vaccine is made available starting next week. Those community partners include the Northern Moore Family Resource Center, the Sandhills Community Action Program, San Juan Diego Mission of Robbins, Team Workz (Homeless
Organization), Sandhills/Moore Coalition for Human Care, the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina, and the Moore County Chapter of the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People).
In addition, Moore County continues to vaccinate people in priority Groups 1 and 2, which include health care workers, long-term care staff and residents and people 65 and older. Detailed information about each vaccine group is online at YourShotYourSpot.nc.gov (English) or covid19.ncdhhs.gov/vacuna (Spanish)
Feature photo of a vaccine screening at the Moore County Health Department by Sandhills Sentinel Photographer John Patota.