Ask Us: Readers seek more clarity on vaccination data

Published 8:08 pm Monday, May 31, 2021

Editor’s note: Ask Us is a weekly feature published online Mondays and in print on Tuesdays. We’ll seek to answer your questions about items or trends in Rowan County. Have a question? Email it to askus@salisburypost.com.

SALISBURY — While others have received their COVID-19 vaccines in the boundaries Rowan County, data maintained by the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services and regularly reported by the Post only includes residents.

Readers asked for more clarity about vaccination data reported by the Post.

After the Rowan County Health Department stopped maintaining its COVID-19 data portal, the Post began using data provided by NCDHHS. Available at covid19.ncdhhs.gov, the state agency provides a range of information about COVID-19 five days per week, except holidays.

Vaccination data regularly reported the Post includes people who live in the boundaries of Rowan County, regardless of where they received a vaccination. NCDHHS provides data for state-approved providers such as the Rowan County Health Department as well as the federal pharmacy program, which includes locations such as Moose Pharmacy.

Data comes from the COVID-19 Vaccine Management System, a secure, web-based system provided for free to all vaccine administrators. NCDHHS says the system, “helps vaccine providers know who has had a first dose of which vaccine to make sure people get the second dose of the same vaccine at the right time. It also helps people register for vaccination at the appropriate time and allows the state to manage vaccine supply.”

The state agency says data can sometimes lag by up to 72 hours from the date vaccinations were administered.

State data show at least 41,926 people who live in the county have received one dose of a vaccine, including the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine. Of those, 31,856 received a first dose from a state-approved provider and 10,070 received one as part of the federal pharmacy program. Meanwhile, 37,767 people in the county are considered fully vaccinated. Compared to the county’s population, that’s 29.5% of residents with one dose and 26.6% fully vaccinated.

State numbers, however, do not include the Salisbury VA Medical Center. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs previously maintained a COVID-19 dashboard that included data by health care system, but it did not break down to individual counties and was not functional on Monday. Data provided in mid-May by the Salisbury VA showed more than 5,000 Rowan residents considered completely vaccinated after receiving shots there. That takes the percent of local residents with a first dose over 30% and brings complete vaccinations close to the same.

NCDHHS uses 2019 Census data, the latest available, and numbers from the National Center for Health Statistics for population estimates and demographic breakdowns.

Health officials occasionally cite a percentage of adults who are vaccinated, and President Joe Biden hopes to vaccinate 70% of the adult population by July 4. The country is close; 62.6% of American adults are vaccinated with at least one dose, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In North Carolina, the percentage of adults with at least one dose is 53.1%, but NCDHHS doesn’t automatically provide a percentage by county. A demographic breakdown of Rowan County’s data shows about 755 of the people vaccinated in Rowan County are younger than 18.

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