County vaccines to reach more

Cinde Ingram, The High Point Enterprise, N.C.
·3 min read

Apr. 8—GUILFORD COUNTY — Guilford County is preparing mobile COVID-19 vaccine clinics while answering questions from parents of minors and addressing concerns of residents who resist taking vaccinations.

The first mobile vaccine unit is expected to arrive May 15, according to Dr. Iulia Vann, director of the Guilford County Division of Public Health. That will be used, along with two smaller vans, at various places such as parks, church parking lots or neighborhoods, Vann said during a media update Wednesday morning.

"Going forward, we do know we have to be flexible and pivot around the needs of our community," Vann said.

Through work with various community groups, county leaders realized early in the pandemic that efforts would need to be more personal, and they began a search last summer for vehicles that could be used for mobile vaccine clinics, Vann said.

"We will be able to meet people where they are. All of this planning going forward is to eliminate barriers to make sure anybody who wants to get a vaccine can," she said.

Guilford County Emergency Management Director Don Campbell reported Guilford County has administered 83,537 doses of vaccines, which includes 47,004 first doses, 35,435 second doses and 1,098 of the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

"For Guilford County residents, we are excited to show 152,061 or 28% are (at least) partially vaccinated and 95,802 residents or 17.8% are fully vaccinated," Campbell said. "Those are great numbers to continue to climb and get us closer to those goals overall."

Campbell encouraged residents to visit healthyguilford.com to schedule an appointment for a vaccination or testing.

Because vaccine eligibility opened last week to everyone 16 and over regardless of health or employment status, Vann said her staff has fielded a lot of questions from parents. Although not required, the health department encourages parents or guardians to accompany their 16-, 17- or 18-year-olds to their appointments.

"If you cannot accompany a minor to their vaccine, it is important to ensure they will have a good understanding of what they are receiving, the potential side effects of the vaccine and if they will need to return for a second dose if they are receiving one of the products that require a second dose," Vann said. "Parental consent is not required as long as the adolescent is able to make those medical decisions for themselves and is able to understand the risks versus the benefits of vaccines in general, medications or other procedures."

In response to reports that some people are hesitant or resistant to taking the vaccine, the county is trying to answer any questions, Vann said.

"We are making efforts to target various demographics who we have gathered concrete information from to make sure we are addressing the message in the right manner," Vann said.

"What we are finding is that much of the research has large overlaps among a variety of different groups."

The county is continuing to work with focus groups, churches and LatinX communities while partnering with stakeholders such as UNCG to understand underlying causes of vaccine hesitancy, Vann said. The county also is working to tailor its marketing messages to create campaigns that are focused on diversity in the community and the spectrum of vaccine attitudes, she said.

cingram@hpenews.com — 336-888-3534 — @HPEcinde