By Dave Russell
As of Monday, the Jackson County Department of Public Health had administered 4,058 first doses and 1,278 second doses of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine.
Those numbers should increase by at least 500 each week for the next three weeks, according to JCPDH Deputy Health Director Melissa McKnight.
“The N.C. Department of Health and Human Services lets us know of our baseline allocation for three weeks,” she said. “JCDPH’s current baseline allocation is 500 first doses. We hope this will continue or increase in future weeks. We want to be able to offer a COVID-19 vaccine to everyone in our community who wants one. This will take time, as it depends on supply which is limited right now. Other enrolled providers are also offering vaccine.”
A visit to https://myspot.nc.gov offers a list of COVID-19 vaccine providers in the area.
“We are thankful for our collaborations with various community partners which make this work possible,” McKnight said.
To see a breakdown of the number of folks vaccinated by county, visit https://covid19.ncdhhs.gov/dashboard/vaccinations.
The dashboard does not include the doses administered by the Cherokee Indian Hospital, as they receive an allocation of COVID-19 vaccines from the Indian Health Service, not NCDHHS.
Last week the health department announced a new online portal to register folks for the vaccine. The portal would not be the only way to register for the shots.
“Our Emergency Operations Center (EOC) will remain open; we encourage people to still call them at 631-HELP,” McKnight said. “The EOC is staffed with folks who are able to answer general COVID-19 questions, direct people to sign up for an appointment online, as well as make accommodations for those without internet access.”
It’s too early to tell if people will need to get COVID-19 vaccines yearly like the flu shot.
“We need more data,” McKnight said. “We’ll know even more about how long the immunity from the vaccines will last as people are vaccinated for a longer period of time.”
Last week Gov. Roy Cooper lifted the statewide curfew, extended the time for establishments to serve alcoholic beverages to 11 p.m. The mask mandate remains in effect.
WCU clinic taking appointments
The Western Carolina University vaccine clinic has opened to the greater region after helping the Jackson County Department of Public Health clear its waiting list for the COVID-19 vaccine.
WCU’s clinic is now serving the larger Western North Carolina region.
The clinic is accepting appointments in compliance with N.C. Department of Health and Human Services guidelines, which are currently focused on those in priority Groups 1 and 2 and the first phase of Group 3.
The clinic is operating out of WCU’s Health and Human Sciences building, located at 3971 Little Savannah Road in Cullowhee, and vaccines are available by appointment only.
To schedule an appointment, or for more information, visit www.wcu.edu/coronavirus/vaccine-info.aspx.
Those who are eligible for the shot but lack internet access should call the clinic at 227-8222 to register.
As of Monday afternoon, WCU had 25 appointments available in an abbreviated clinic today (Thursday), 336 on Friday and 341 on Monday, March 8.
Beware of scams
N.C. Attorney General Josh Stein sent a warning this week that scammers are using the public’s desire for a vaccine to take advantage of North Carolinians and steal personal information and financial data. Here’s what he said folks need to know:
• The COVID-19 vaccines are free, regardless of whether you have health insurance. Vaccines cannot be sold, and you cannot buy one.
• You also cannot get a vaccine mailed to you. Right now, vaccines are only being administered at health care locations or designated vaccine administration sites.
• No one can guarantee you a spot on a vaccine waitlist or help you get the vaccine early. There is no way to buy your spot in line.
• Do not fall for fake websites that resemble legitimate health department or health care provider websites. Make sure the website is legitimate – look for the lock icon and a URL beginning with https: in the address bar. To register to get the vaccine with a legitimate entity, you absolutely do not need to share a bank account, Social Security or credit card number.
• Stay up to date on North Carolina’s vaccine rollout and learn more about how to get vaccines at covid19.ncdhhs.gov/vaccines.
For questions about a possible scam, contact the AG office’s Consumer Protection Division at ncdoj.gov/complaint or 1-877-5-NO-SCAM.
By the numbers
About 14 percent of county residents have had at least one shot, according to the NCDHHS.
The county’s death toll remains at 48. The rate of COVID-19 infection in Jackson County continues its downward trajectory, increasing only 2.1 percent since last Tuesday.
As of 5 p.m. Tuesday, DHHS reported 3,340 total cases in Jackson, an increase of 70 from 3,270 a week earlier.
The county has had 760 cases per 10,000 residents, up from 744 last week. According to the DHHS dashboard, Jackson County has a testing positivity rate of 6.7 percent. That’s higher than the state rate of 5.7 percent.
DHHS on Tuesday reported 863,409 statewide cases (up from 846,284 last week) and 11,288 deaths (up from 10,965 last week).
Nationwide, cases numbered 28,456,860 (up from 27,993,504 last week) and 513,122 deaths (up from 498,993) as of Tuesday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported.
The Jackson County Public Schools dashboard (jcpsnc.org/covid) tracks positive cases among staff and students. There have been 121 student cases, up one from last week’s 120. One of those cases is active, that one at Blue Ridge School. There are no active staff cases at this time, and one case among non-staff and volunteers.
Since reporting began July 1, Western Carolina University reports 656 total cases among students, employees and contractors, up from 624 last week. Since Jan. 1, there have been 143 student cases, up from 111 last week, and 36 employee cases and three contractor cases for a total of 182, up from 150 last week.
The campus has 95 quarantine beds, with 23 in use currently. Off campus, 90 students are in quarantine/isolation.