Freedom from the virus by Fourth of July? Health officials say it’s very possible

Health officials say the state will need to boost vaccine distribution to meet president’s May 1 eligibility deadline.
Published: Mar. 12, 2021 at 7:35 PM EST
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JACKSONVILLE, N.C. (WITN) - The end of the pandemic, as we know it, could end with fireworks displays across the country.

County health leaders are now pushing to meet Pres. Biden’s charge to make all Americans eligible for the vaccine, with the promise of some form of normal by the summer.

“We just had a sunroom added on, and I would love to go out there in it and on the outside of it and look around with family and friends,” said Hilda Coston. She just got her second dose of the vaccine in Onslow County on Friday, and is excited about the possibility of an explosive finish to the pandemic. “We’ll probably never go back to really normal normal like we used to be in.”

In his address to the nation Thursday, Pres. Biden urged all states to make every American eligible for the vaccine by May 1 and added that families could be enjoying barbecues in limited settings by the Fourth of July.

“Where we not only mark our independence as a nation, but we begin to mark our independence from this virus,” said Biden.

It’s an exciting possibility to those who just got their first taste of the end of the pandemic Friday at Onslow County’s second-dose clinic.

“It’s time that we can be together and see people,” said Linda Demott. “I’ve missed that.”

It’s a very practical demand, said Onslow’s Health Director Kristen Richmond-Hoover, but only if the state steps up their vaccine shipments and if more people step up to find their place in line.

“We’ll have to receive a lot of inventory during the month of April, and I think that the state has said that they anticipate receiving more inventory, but right now, we’re taking this week by week,” said Richmond-Hoover. “We work through our allocation each week, and we’ve been able to do that consistently.”

The county has not thrown out a single dose of the vaccine, according to Richmond-Hoover, and is anticipating an additional 1,800 doses next week with spots available.

“I hope that enough people will get their vaccine,” said Shirley Myers, who got her second dose Friday. “It’s certainly being made available.”

The state has only fully-vaccinated about 10% of the population. Still, a ways away from the needed 70-80% health experts say is necessary to reach herd immunity and loosen restrictions.

A number Coston is praying will be within arm’s reach sooner rather than later, so her dream of a sunroom celebration can become a cheerful reality.

“I’ve always had everybody over,” said Coston. “Potluck, bring it! And we’ll have a ball.

To see if you’re eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine, click here.

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