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Interest in the vaccine in North Carolina is slowing down

Only about 24% of North Carolinians are fully-vaccinated, but the number of vaccines administered since the peak of the rollout in early April has slowed nearly in half.
Published: Apr. 30, 2021 at 7:47 PM EDT
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ONSLOW COUNTY, N.C. (WITN) - North Carolinians no longer need to wear a mask outdoors. That’s according to Governor Roy Cooper’s amended executive order, which took effect at 5 pm Friday.

But interest in the vaccine is waning, and local health departments are feeling it.

“May is going to be critical for us,” said Onslow County Health Department Spokesperson Victoria Reyes. “We were seeing a decrease in appointments that we were taking.”

The county moved all its vaccination operations under their Consolidated Human Services building because of the declining interest in the vaccine. Before, they had three separate clinics. They’re also offering all three brands of available vaccines for the first time and allowing walk-ins.

The county has administered 90% fewer shots of the vaccine since the height of the rollout. Then, they were administering about 600 shots daily, according to county health officials. Today, they’re only giving out a little more than 50, despite the supply being higher than ever.

“We’re working on some plans and some ways that we could better communicate that one-on-one,” said Reyes. “Now we’re not talking about mass-vaccinations. We’re talking about one-on-one individual conversations.”

Nearly half the number of vaccines are being administered in North Carolina than at the state’s height, despite only about 24% of North Carolina being fully vaccinated.

That’s a long way away from what health experts call herd immunity, which is around 70%, but hard to nail down because of COVID-19 variants and little known about how long immunity lasts after getting the vaccine or contracting the virus.

“All of these moving things make this allusive number of herd immunity really kind of difficult to define,” said National Institute of Health Director Dr. Anthony Fauci. “The more people you get vaccinated, every single day about 3 million people get vaccinated, you get closer and closer to the control of the viral dynamics, that’s absolutely certain.”

It’s running toward the final sprint, but something Gov. Cooper would like to improve by June 1, his goal for relaxing most COVID-19 restrictions.

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