Though Mecklenburg County is beginning to roll out its plan to distribute a vaccine for COVID-19, infections and hospitalizations due to the coronavirus remain high.
According to the Charlotte Observer, the average COVID-19 positivity rate in Mecklenburg County reached a record high in the weeks after Christmas. The COVID-19 positivity rate refers to the percentage of COVID-19 tests that come back positive. In other words, out of all the people who get tested for the coronavirus, the percentage who test positive.
In late July, the average positivity rate was around 11%; in October, this went down to only 5%. In November and December, the rates climbed back up, and the average COVID-19 positivity rate for the week after Christmas was 15.6%. This demonstrates that the number of COVID-19 infections has greatly increased over the past months. Large gatherings to celebrate the holidays undoubtedly added to this rise. Similarly, daily COVID-19 hospitalizations have been steadily increasing since October, with more than 500 hospitalizations due to COVID-19 on Sunday, Jan. 3.
Amid the rising number of infections and hospitalizations, Mecklenburg County is implementing its vaccination plans. The first public COVID-19 vaccination clinic started Wed., Jan. 6, at Bojangles Coliseum. Anyone 75 or older can sign up for an appointment to be vaccinated. Many have already signed up, and all appointments until Jan. 16 have already been booked.
Mecklenburg County is currently in Phase 1b of the vaccine distribution plan. Phase 1b is broken into three groups. The first group to be vaccinated includes those 75 and older. The second group includes healthcare and frontline workers 50 and older. The third group includes healthcare and frontline workers younger than 50.
When more vaccines are available, Mecklenburg County will move into Phase 2, which is also broken into three groups. The first group will be for people between the ages of 64 and 74. The second group will be for people between the ages of 16 and 64 who are at high risk of severe illness from COVID-19. This includes those with cancer, serious heart conditions, and Type 2 diabetes. Finally, the third group in Phase 2 will be for the incarcerated and those living in group settings, like nursing homes.
Many East Meck students will receive their vaccines in Phase 3, when students 16 and older will be vaccinated. Finally, in Phase 4, anyone who has not already received their vaccine will have an opportunity to do so.
Mecklenburg County is distributing the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine. This vaccine has two doses, which are spaced three weeks apart. The county doesn’t have all the details on how it will distribute the second dose yet, but people will receive information on how to get the second dose at the clinic.