By Catharin Shepard • Staff writer • The Hoke County Health Department, Cape Fear Valley Health and FirstHealth of the Carolinas are all providing the COVID-19 vaccine free of charge to people in Hoke County, as vaccine supplies and scheduling allow.
FirstHealth of the Carolinas last week began holding vaccine clinics organized through primary care physicians’ offices in Hoke County. The first clinic held Friday, January 15 at the FirstHealth Hoke hospital campus vaccinated people 75 years old and older with the first of two doses needed to inoculate against COVID-19.
Jerome Bratcher was the first person from Raeford to receive the COVID-19 vaccine at the Operation FirstShot clinic in Hoke County, FirstHealth officials said.
“I want to be around a long time, and I think this vaccine is one way to make sure of it,” Bratcher said in a statement.
David McNeely, also of Raeford, was another one of the citizens who got the first shot Friday.
“I think this is the only way we’re going to end this pandemic,” he said in a statement. “I encourage all who are eligible to get the vaccine.”
Last week state officials announced that anyone 65 years old or older in North Carolina is now eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, along with any healthcare workers who haven’t already received it. The state changed the priority list for which groups of people get to have the vaccine first in order to match updated federal guidelines.
However, supplies of the vaccine are still limited and not all healthcare providers have moved to offering the vaccine to people in the 65-to-74-year-old age range. FirstHealth of the Carolinas noted that due to demand and limited vaccine supply, it is still focusing on vaccinating people 75 years old or older and has not yet started vaccinating people between the ages of 65-74.
“As we make more progress in vaccinating Group 1 (75 and older), we will begin scheduling vaccinations for Group 2 (65 years old and older),” a statement from the hospital system said.
Cape Fear Valley and the Hoke County Health Department are both currently offering the vaccine to anyone age 65 or older, and any healthcare workers who haven’t received it. The Health Department is also offering pre-registration for frontline essential workers age 50 or older in anticipation of the next phase of the vaccine rollout, although those individuals aren’t eligible to get the shot just yet.
When the state moves to the next priority group, Group 3, frontline essential workers will be able to receive the vaccine. In Group 4, any adult at high risk for exposure or increased risk for severe illness will be eligible. The last group, Group 5, will allow everyone regardless of age or status to receive the vaccine.
How to get the vaccine
Hoke County Health Department: Go to https://www.readyhoke.org to fill out the paperwork. For further assistance in scheduling an appointment, call the Health Department at 910-753-4429 or 910-753-4430.
Cape Fear Valley Hoke Hospital: Go to www.capefearvalley.com/covid19 for the latest availability information. For the week of January 19 – January 22, Cape Fear Valley Hoke will serve those with appointments only. Starting January 26, the Hoke clinic will be a walk-in clinic only, which allows individuals to remain in their vehicles until called.
The hospital system is also operating an automated message line at (910) 615-9000, to keep people updated throughout the vaccine process.
FirstHealth of the Carolinas: Go to www.firsthealth.org/shot for the latest availability information. FirstHealth is currently working with primary care clinics in Hoke County to run vaccine clinics for people 75 years old or older, and healthcare workers, scheduled through primary care providers. Check with your primary care provider for more information on scheduling an appointment.
State Resources: The state is offering information about where to get the vaccine at http://yourspotyourshot.nc.gov, or call the COVID-19 line at 1-877-490-6642.