As of Feb. 8, only 3,064 Jackson County residents had received a first vaccine dose, equal to 7 percent of the county’s population according to 2019 U.S. Census Bureau estimates. By comparison, 8.9 percent of Macon County residents, 10.3 percent of Swain County residents and 11.6 percent of Haywood County residents had received a first dose by that same date. In addition, the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians had given 1,751 first doses by Feb. 8 through a separate allocation from the federal government. The tribe has about 16,000 enrolled members, though they don’t all live in Western North Carolina.
In addition to the health department’s 1,200 doses, Harris Regional Hospital received 100 doses. Blue Ridge Health is distributing the vaccine in several counties including Jackson and Haywood, and an ultra-cold freezer from the University of North Carolina System is on its way to Western Carolina University, where it will be used to store vaccine doses for a public clinic that will be offered there.
In preparation for that clinic, the WCU Center for Community Engagement and Service Learning has created a website to solicit volunteers for the vaccination effort. The university is also working to hire staff, both clinical and administrative, to supplement the volunteers. The clinic aims to administer at least 500 vaccines per day. More information about employment at the clinic is available at www.jobs.wcu.edu, and information about volunteer opportunities is online at www.wcu.edu/learn/academic-enrichment/center-for-service-learning/vaccination-resources.aspx.
Jackson County has been assured a baseline allocation of 200 first doses for at least one more week — though it could receive additional doses above that baseline, as happened this week — and Harris Regional has likewise been told to expect 100 doses per week. Jackson is still vaccinating Groups 1 and 2, which includes healthcare workers, staff and residents at long-term care facilities, and adults 65 and older.
Haywood County is also in the midst of vaccinating older adults and had been offering appointments only to those 75 and older but is moving to the 65 and older age group this week. The health department received 300 first doses this week, Haywood Regional Medical Center received 100 and Blue Ridge Health received 100. The same amounts are expected next week as well.
The EBCI is now vaccinating adults 40 and older who are tribal members or who qualify for primary care services at the Cherokee Indian Hospital. Swain County and Macon County are vaccinating adults 65 and older.
Counties are also beginning to work on administering second doses. As of Feb. 8, Haywood County had administered 1,237 second doses, or 1.99 percent of the population; Jackson County had administered 430, or 0.98 percent; Macon had administered 339, or 0.95 percent; and Swain County had administered 206, or 1.44 percent. The EBCI had administered 590 second doses.
Statewide statistics are updated at www.covid19.ncdhhs.gov/dashboard/vaccinations.