Here’s how Salisbury, Rowan County residents can receive COVID-19 booster shot

Published 12:10 am Thursday, November 25, 2021

During the holiday season, it’s imperative people protect themselves against COVID-19, says Rowan County Health Director Alyssa Harris.

That includes receiving a booster shot for the coronavirus, which were OK’d last week for all adults. The booster shots can be received by adults who are at least six months past their two-dose series and two months past a one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine, Harris said.

“We strongly encourage individuals to receive their booster dose,” she said.

She said cases have increased slightly, but she’s more concerned about people in the hospital with severe cases of COVID-19.

“These cases remain largely, if not entirely, comprised of individual who have not yet been vaccinated,” Harris said. “Our goal with public health is to see as few people as possible get COVID-19 and those who do to be protected from a severe case. Our hope is that through practicing the 3Ws and increasing those who have been vaccinated, we will continue to see a decrease in cases of COVID-19.”

People who receive a booster shot can choose between varieties, Pfizer, Moderna or Johnson & Johnson. Dr. David Priest, a Novant Health physician who leads the company’s COVID-19 efforts, said people should generally choose the same variety of shot they receive initially unless they received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which had a lower efficacy than the two-shot varieties.

“There’s varying ideas about this. Our general advice has been to get the product you started with. They work well. They get your antibody level up to where it needs to be,” he said. “There’s some data emerging that mixing (Pfizer and Moderna) could be beneficial at some point, but for now I think it’s worth just sticking with that product.”

People who received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine can receive a second shot of the same variety, but Priest said “it makes a lot of sense” to mix with Pfizer or Moderna.

Harris said the Rowan County Health Department provides drive-thru vaccines on Tuesdays and Thursday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. through its partner StarMed. Appointments can be made by visiting the website StarMed.care. People should bring their COVID-19 vaccine card.

Novant Health started offering booster doses for the general public on Tuesday. Its closest site for Rowan County residents is the J.F. Hurley YMCA, 828 Jake Alexander Blvd. W. Vaccination appointments are available Mondays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Wednesdays from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.

People can schedule appointments at a Novant Health site by visiting their MyChart at MyNovant.org. Appointment availability can be accessed under the Visits tab. Look for the “schedule an appointment” button. People can also schedule a COVID-19 vaccination at GetVaccinated.org.

In a call with reporters Tuesday, Priest said it’s possible that COVID-19 vaccines could be required on a regular basis.

“I would anticipate, much like we have a seasonal flu shot, that we have a season SARS-CoV-2 shot as well,” he said. “I think that’s probably likely to be the case. A lot of it depends on how many people in the population get vaccinated and have had COVID.”

In North Carolina, about 56% of the population is considered fully vaccinated. While that may seem like a high number, Priest said it’s not high enough to stop the pandemic.

“We need to get the collective, people that have had it or been vaccinated, up to an amount that you don’t necessary need to get the third dose because the activity in the community is so much less,” he said. “Think about other infectious diseases out there, like measles. For measles not to pop up and spread around, we need well over 90% of people to have some degree of immunity to it.”

Data available on Wednesday showed 62,960 Rowan County residents (44% of the population) vaccinated with at least one dose and 58,486 people (41% of the population) fully vaccinated. That’s lower than the state and national average as well as most neighboring counties.

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