COVID-19 booster available for some as Hoke sees four more deaths, slow decline in number of new cases

By Catharin Shepard • Staff writer • The Hoke County Health Department and Cape Fear Valley Health both announced this week they are now offering booster COVID-19 shots for people who are eligible to receive one.

The booster shot is only available in the Pfizer vaccine, as boosters of the Moderna and Johnson and Johnson shot are not yet approved or authorized for emergency use. The booster shot is not approved for people under the age of 18.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend a booster shot only for certain people, at least six months after their first two shots.

According to the CDC guidance:

•People 65 years old and older and residents in long-term care settings should receive a booster shot.

•People ages 50-64 with certain underlying medical conditions should receive a booster shot.

•People ages 18-49 who are at high risk for severe COVID-19 due to certain underlying conditions may receive a booster shot, based on their individual benefits and risks.

•People ages 18-64 who are at increased risk for COVID-19 exposure and transmission because of occupational or institutional setting may receive a booster shot, based on their individual benefits and risks.

The underlying medical conditions include cancer, chronic kidney disease, chronic lung disease including COPD asthma, dementia and other neurological conditions, diabetes, Down syndrome, heart conditions including heart failure, high blood pressure and coronary artery disease, HIV, liver disease, overweight or obese, pregnancy, sickle cell disease, smoking current or former, and transplant patients.

The Hoke County Health Department and Cape Fear Valley Health’s Hoke hospital pharmacy are among the vaccine providers now offering the Pfizer booster shot. The providers also continue offering first and second dose vaccinations, and the one-dose Johnson and Johnson shot for people who haven’t yet gotten any COVID-19 vaccine.

The Hoke County Health Department in Raeford provides COVID-19 vaccines Monday-Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. as scheduled appointments or walk-ins.

The department also offers free drive-thru COVID-19 testing operated by Optum Serve. The testing is available from September 27 through October 31 from 8 a.m.-3 p.m. Tuesdays-Fridays and 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturdays.

The Hoke County Health Department is located at 683 East Palmer in Raeford.

Cape Fear Valley Health is offering Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine booster at all its vaccine clinic locations and primary care offices during regular hours. The clinic at the Hoke Pharmacy is open Tuesday and Thursday, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. at 300 Medical Pavilion Drive, Suite 100 in Hoke County.

<02>Fewer cases, more deaths

<01>Although the number of new infections appeared to be going down in Hoke County, several more people have died after becoming ill with COVID-19.

Another four people from Hoke have died after testing positive for the virus, according to the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services. The recent deaths bring Hoke’s death toll from the pandemic to 73 lives lost.

Hoke County saw 279 new cases of the virus over the past 14 days, including 111 new cases over the past seven days. That’s down slightly from the prior two-week period.

Hoke County Schools also showed fewer new cases of COVID-19. The school system’s COVID-19 dashboard reported 24 cases of COVID-19 among students and staff for the week ending Friday, September 24. That includes 23 students who were reported positive, and one staff member with the virus.

Statewide hospitalizations remained fairly high, but were showing signs of declining. As of Tuesday, about 3,074 people across the state were in a hospital after testing positive for COVID-19.

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