As demand drops, Cooper visits vaccine clinic to urge usage

Published 11:10 pm Wednesday, May 5, 2021

By Hannah Smoot

Charlotte Observer

CHARLOTTE — In a stop at the Mecklenburg EMS Agency COVID-19 vaccination clinic Wednesday, Gov. Roy Cooper praised the work of county officials and paramedics.

The vaccination clinic on Wilkinson Boulevard has the capacity to administer 450 shots a day. Until a few weeks ago, the clinic was at full capacity for vaccine appointments, county medical director Dr. Meg Sullivan told the governor.

But demand for vaccines has quickly dropped in Charlotte and across the state.

Cooper has said the state may be able to lift all mask requirements once at least two-thirds of North Carolinians have received at least one shot.

And the threshold for reaching herd immunity, when a large majority of the population is vaccinated, is likely higher — but experts worry slowing demand for vaccines may mean the state won’t reach that level.

So on Wednesday, Cooper and state Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen urged all state and Mecklenburg County residents to get the vaccine.

“We want to make sure that our whole state is protected,” Cohen said. “I think it’s important to remember: Vaccines not only protect you as an individual, the more people who get vaccinated, it protects us all.”

In order to reach everyone, Cohen said it’s important to make getting a vaccine even more convenient.

That’s why many Mecklenburg County COVID-19 vaccine providers, including Mecklenburg County Public Health, Atrium Health and Novant Health, are now accepting walk-ins. And Walmart, Sam’s Club and CVS are also accepting walk-ins for COVID-19 shots.

And Cooper said it’s important people are hearing about vaccines from their family doctors and trusted friends and family.

“We’re all in this together,” he said. “…We’ve got a ways to go.”

Cooper stopped by to talk to Charlotte-resident Rachel Willis as she sat down to get her second Pfizer shot on Wednesday.

She said she was excited and “just ready” to finally get full protection against the coronavirus.

“It’s nice to have people in our government who are encouraging this and wanting people to get vaccinated,” Willis said. “Because that’s how we’re going to get back to some sort of normal.”

In Mecklenburg County, 31.5% of county residents are fully vaccinated against the coronavirus. And 40.9% of county residents are at least partially vaccinated as of Wednesday, according to state DHHS data.

The county’s partial vaccination rate has caught up to the state’s rate after lagging behind for months. Across the state, 33.5% of NC residents are fully vaccinated and 39.5% of NC residents are at least partially vaccinated.