Vaccine hesitancy could impact employers, employees

The last time Americans lived through a global pandemic, the field of employment law wasn’t nearly as developed as it is today. That’s led to an overwhelming number of unanswered questions surrounding the rights and obligations of both employers and employees when considering the massive COVID-19 vaccination effort currently underway. 

Haywood County COVID-19 update

“To date, over 18,000 people in Haywood County are at least partially vaccinated. Mass vaccination efforts have been running smoothly, despite challenges with weather, location changes, and the sheer volume of the task. From the moment of the first vaccine arrival in Haywood County to now, the goal has always been to vaccinate everyone that wants to be in a timely and efficient way. To that end, we are constantly refining the process and this week we are pleased to announce a change that we believe will make appointment scheduling even easier moving forward,” said Haywood County Vaccine Coordinator Garron Bradish.

In an effort to increase efficiency and improve the user experience Haywood County will transition from its current COVID-19 vaccine pre-registration system to a system by which citizens can self-schedule for available vaccine appointments beginning April 14.

 

Transition to self-scheduling —

What’s New:

  • Beginning April 14 citizens visiting the existing pre-registration portal (https://www.haywoodcountync.gov/vaccine) will now be able to schedule their own vaccine appointment from available dates and times. No more registering and waiting for a phone call.

  • During the transition period, a limited amount of self-schedule appointment times will be available. That number will steadily increase as we finish vaccinating people who were pre-registered prior to the new system implementation.

What stays the same:

  • The website address for vaccine appointments will remain the same as it has been: https://www.haywoodcountync.gov/vaccine  Visitors to this link will see the new portal instead of the pre-registration form beginning April 14, until that date, citizens can still use the existing form to pre-register.

  • Haywood County will continue to prioritize appointments for those on the existing pre-registration list, based on registration date until that list is completed.

  • Those needing assistance with scheduling their vaccine appointment or follow-up questions about vaccine appointments are encouraged to call the Haywood County COVID Vaccine hotline at 828-356-2019.

  • The primary vaccination site will remain at the Smoky Mountain Event Center, with the exception of the week of April 5 when we will furlough for Spring Break.

Important to know: 

  • Citizens are urged NOT to double register. If you already pre-registered prior to April 14, DO NOT use the self-scheduling portal to book an appointment. Health and Human Services already have your registration and you will receive a call to schedule your appointment time in the order in which registrations were received. Those on the pre-registration list will be prioritized during the transition period that is expected to last a few weeks.

 

Where to find COVID-19 vaccine information:

  • For vaccine appointment or registration questions call: 828-356-2019

  • Please do not call the health department’s main number for COVID-19 vaccination questions, use the hotline number instead.

  • For general COVID-19 information visit https://www.haywoodcountync.gov/684/COVID-19-Information

Vaccinations by the numbers:

Total first shots given so far: 18,041* 

*This figure now includes federal vaccination programs through pharmacies.

First shots given this week at Haywood County drive-through events: 800+

 

Currently vaccinating: 

  • Haywood residents of all eligible groups (1-4)

 

Currently registering: Haywood Residents 18 and up

To register online visit: haywoodcountync.gov/vaccine

or by phone at 828-356-2019 (hours of operation for the phone line are Monday - Friday 8 a.m - 5 pm..) 

 

Vaccination groups completed:

  • Long term care facility residents and staff

  • Hospital and doctor’s office staff

  • Health Department, Emergency Services, and Vaccine Clinic staff

  • County and municipal critical staff

  • Haywood residents ages 75+

  • Haywood residents 65+

 

Vaccination groups nearing completion:

  • Haywood County educators

 

What to know for Group 3 & 4 in Haywood County —

  • Vaccination eligibility is open to everyone in Groups 3 & 4. Appointments will still be required.

 

Vaccination capacity: The county expects to receive an allotment of 400 Moderna doses this coming week. Since Haywood County will not have its mass vaccination clinic during the week of Spring Break, that allotment will be transferred to Range Urgent Care in Asheville under a vaccine exchange program to supply vaccines to providers best able to distribute them in a timely manner. 

 

Haywood County is also receiving 400 doses of Johnson & Johnson, which will be used throughout April at mobile clinics.

 

Accepting First Dose Appointment: 

  • Time and location details for first dose appointments go out through an automated phone/text/email system. Listen carefully for appointment location and time.

  • Do not accept the appointment for the initial dose if you cannot commit to being available on the day your second dose should be given. Second doses are due 21 days or 28 days after the first dose, depending on the vaccine given, which we will not know until the day of the clinic. If you plan to be out of town or having a scheduled surgery or some other conflict you should wait and not start the vaccine until you can receive all doses here in Haywood County, on time.

  • If you decline an appointment, your name remains on the list to be called for a future first dose clinic. You do not have to register again.

 

Second dose information:

  • Over 800 people received second doses this week, completing their COVID-19 vaccination regimen. For most people, full immunity potential is reached about two weeks after receiving the second dose. For J&J vaccine, the full benefit is reached 4 weeks after the single dose. It is important to continue wearing masks and following other COVID protocols even after immunity is reached.

  • Second doses are allocated separately dependent on the number of first doses given. So far, second dose allocations appear to be arriving right on schedule and we anticipate no issues here.

  • The second appointment dates for Moderna are due 28 days after the initial dose. Appointments for Pfizer are due 21 days after the initial dose. (If you have been vaccinated already, your second appointment date can be found on the back of your vaccine card.)

  • Time and location details for second appointments will go out via the same phone system through which you received your first appointment. 

 

Organizations dispensing vaccine*:

  • Haywood County Health and Human Services 

  • Haywood Regional Medical Center (partnering with HHSA for distribution)

  • Blue Ridge Community Health: 100 doses per week

  • Walgreens: 100 doses per location per week

  • Ingles: Canton

 

*All organizations are offering vaccinations by appointment only.

 

Mass Vaccination Clinics:

  • Haywood County Health and Human Services, Haywood County Emergency Services, and Haywood Regional Medical Center are partnering on the weekly vaccine clinics.

  • The clinics serve those on the pre-registry list who have been contacted with an appointment time and are NOT open to the public or to walk-ins. 

  • Instructions on how to participate will be given when appointment times are scheduled.

  • About 800 people received their first shots at mass clinic events this week in Haywood.

  • Huge thanks to all the volunteers, churches, and individuals who contribute to the success of these events. 

 

To learn more about COVID-19 vaccines and the prioritization goals visit: https://covid19.ncdhhs.gov/vaccines

 

At each step of the way,  Haywood County Health and Human Services is committed to providing updates and guidance to make sure that everyone who wants to be vaccinated will have their chance.

 

Key Points about the COVID-19 vaccine:

  • The vaccine is tested, safe, and effective

  • You cannot get COVID-19 from the vaccine

  • The vaccine will be provided free of charge to everyone that wants it.

  • For the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, two doses are needed for maximum immunity.

  • The Johnson & Johnson vaccine requires only one dose.

  • There is no vaccine mandate.

  • Continuing the 3Ws will be critical until the vaccine is widely taken

 

Summary of Key Updates this week:

  • There will be no mass vaccination event next week due to Spring Break.

  • In an effort to increase efficiency and improve the user experience Haywood County will transition from its current COVID-19 vaccine pre-registration system to a system by which citizens can self-schedule for available vaccine appointments beginning April 14.

  • The Haywood County mass vaccination appointments will continue to be located at the Smoky Mountain Event Center (fairgrounds).

CDC Extends Moratorium on Renter Evictions to June 30

Just as it was about to expire at the end of March, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued an extension of the national ban that temporarily halts evictions for millions of renters. The new order extends the moratorium to June 30, 2021. An estimated 435,000 North Carolinians are currently behind on their rent.

The order requires that renters meet certain criteria, including:

  • Have an income of $198,000 or less for couples filing jointly, or up to $99,000 for individuals.
  • Show they have sought government assistance to pay their rent.
  • Declare they are unable to pay rent because of COVID-19.
  • Affirm they are likely to become homeless or will be forced to stay with friends or family if they are evicted.
  • Show they have lost income.

Renters must fill out and submit a copy of the CDC declaration form – available at local courthouses and also www.pisgahlegal.org/federal-eviction-moratorium/. Renters should submit the form in English to their landlords or to their local court. Pisgah Legal advises keeping another dated copy as well.

Pisgah Legal Services Executive Director Jim Barrett says, “This is very good news for many folks across the country and those right here in our mountain region. Federal relief is on its way, and we hope this extension will allow for the time that is needed to get these funds to those who are worried about losing their homes.”

He continued, “In the meantime, we encourage people to fill out the CDC form and work with their landlords to pay what they can because the moratorium does not mean that rent is forgiven. And if they have questions or need additional help to contact Pisgah Legal Services.”  

In addition to the moratorium, renters should also know these basic rights:

  1. A tenant cannot be made to move from a rental home without a court order.  Tenants have a right to appear in court and defend themselves. Any attempt made to remove a tenant by anyone or any means except the Sheriff’s Department is illegal.  
  2. In most cases, landlords cannot legally terminate a tenant’s electricity, water, or heat source as a method of forcing them to leave a rental unit.  
  3. Do not move out without talking to an attorney. Tenants may have rights and defenses that they do not know about.  There may be financial resources available tenants are unaware of.  Even if a tenant is behind in rent, do not move out without finding out your options. Eviction actions can happen quickly without an attorney, and they can be slowed down to prevent homelessness with the aid of an attorney.

Pisgah Legal Services, a nonprofit that provides free civil legal aid in Western North Carolina, continues to assist people with low incomes. Staff and volunteer attorneys are helping clients and taking new applications for assistance with critical needs that include:

  • evictions and foreclosures
  • domestic violence
  • coping with debts and avoiding scams
  • unemployment and other government benefits 
  • and health care.

Need Help?
If you or someone you know needs help, call Pisgah Legal’s main phone lines at 828-253-0406, or 800-489-6144. Online applications are also being accepted: www.pisgahlegal.org/free-legal-assistance. Pisgah Legal staff and volunteer attorneys continue to work remotely and will be in touch via phone and/or email.  

About Pisgah Legal Services
Since 1978, nonprofit Pisgah Legal Services has provided free civil legal aid to help people with low incomes seek justice and meet their basic needs. Pisgah Legal provides a broad array of legal services in 11 WNC counties and offers health and immigration law services in 18 counties. Last year PLS served more than 20,000 people across the mountain region.

PLS has offices in Asheville, Burnsville, Brevard, Hendersonville, Highlands/Cashiers, Marshall, Newland, and Rutherfordton. In addition to the attorneys on staff, Pisgah Legal relies heavily on the pro bono legal services of approximately 300 volunteer attorneys.

Want to Help Others?

You can aid this important work. Giving online is fast, easy and secure at www.pisgahlegal.org/give or contact Development Director Ally Wilson by phone at 828-210-3444 or via email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Checks may be mailed to P.O. Box 2276, Asheville, N.C.  28802

Emerging from a difficult year of COVID-19

By Dr. J. Scott Hinkle • Guest Columnist | The COVID-19 crisis is winding down. This time last year we were thrust into panic, social distancing, masking, and hopelessness. Today, another crisis is revealed, namely mental health problems that will be felt for years after the pandemic is over. Many people are experiencing anxiety, depression, loneliness and isolation.

COVID-19: Those We've Lost

By Sally Kestin | Asheville Watchdog

They taught students in school, delivered the mail, advised Congress, and served the country in wartime and peace.

One led public affairs for NASA and became the voice of launch control for Apollo space missions. Another was a composer and pianist who played in the original Mickey Mouse Orchestra.

Hospitals offer incentives to attract providers

In 2019, registered nurses were listed as the third most in-demand job in the U.S., and even though enrollment in nursing programs is also on the rise, it’s not keeping pace with the market demand.

Growing the pipeline: Amid pandemic, educators train new generation of healthcare professionals

As a respiratory therapist, Bruce Moyle is trained to deliver breathing therapies to people who struggle to draw oxygen. As a respiratory therapy instructor at Southwestern Community College, he’s trained to deliver the next generation of healthcare workers to a region that struggles to hire enough of them. 

Nursing students find purpose amid difficulties of pandemic

For students in the nursing program at Western Carolina University, the Coronavirus Pandemic sauntered into their world during spring break 2020. On Wednesday of that week, the university informed students that the break would be extended by one week. By Friday, the news was more dire, students wouldn’t be returning to campus at all. 

As cases recede, health experts urge caution

Vaccination numbers have nearly doubled in the four-county area of Haywood, Jackson, Swain and Macon counties over past month and case numbers are way down, but with Easter weekend and spring break trips on the horizon, public health officials are urging the public to continue taking measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

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