Jan. 14 update: Gov. Roy Cooper announced Thursday that North Carolinians 65 and older can now receive their first round of COVID-19 vaccinations. 

For Lake Gaston residents, whether or not they are currently eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccination could depend on which side of the state line they reside.

Warren, Halifax and Northampton counties in North Carolina each have moved beyond the state’s 1a phase into 1b. This means residents 75 and older can now schedule vaccinations. These phases are outlined in a graphic on Page 2.

In Virginia, Mecklenburg and Brunswick counties are still in the state’s 1a phase, which only includes healthcare personnel and residents of long-term care facilities. The Gazette-Observer has not yet been able to connect with the Southside Health District for an interview. The Warren and Northampton county health directors each asked residents to contact their local health departments to schedule appointments and find locations to be vaccinated.

Hospitals and health systems are also providing the shots.

“The state is opening up the process for other providers such as primary care practices and pharmacies to become vaccine providers,” said Warren County Health Director Margaret Brake.

“All Lake Gaston Residents need to contact their local county health department in the county they reside in,” said Northampton County Health Director Andy Smith. “Each health department will provide information on how the individual can go about receiving the vaccine.

“It’s important to understand that once residents contact their respective health department, they may be placed on a waiting list as currently, vaccine supplies are limited.”

North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Mandy Cohen said in a briefing last week residents can get a vaccine in a county they don’t reside in, but should check with their county’s health department first.

Both the NC DHHS and Virginia Health Department web sites contain a plethora of information about vaccinations, such as frequently asked questions.

Warren County

The Warren County Health Department announced that people ages 75 and older may now make appointments to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.

Vaccines for people in that age group are expected to be administered beginning next week.

Brake said that people can go to the health department at the time of their appointment. After going inside, they will be asked to complete a standard state-required form and wait for their name to be called.

Brake said that the health department chose to administer vaccines by appointment in order to avoid having people wait in long lines outside.

Currently, COVID-19 vaccines are being administered to healthcare workers, and to residents and staff members at long-term care facilities.

Vaccinating people age 75 and older is part of Phase 1b of the NC DHHS plan for administering the COVID-19 vaccine, with priority given to people most at risk for the virus.

Halifax County

Halifax County did not return a Gazette-Observer email asking specific questions about the vaccine and instead referred the newspaper to a news release announcing that 1A and 1B-1 (anyone 75 and over) vaccinations will be offered at Halifax Community College Building 700 on Wednesday and Thursday this week from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. depending on the availability of the vaccine. The release did not specify that an appointment was necessary.

Northampton County

Smith added, “Currently, there is a waiting list for the COVID-19 vaccine and all an individual needs to do is call Northampton County Health Department and leave their name and number so they can be placed on the waiting list.”

Effectiveness

“The vaccines were built upon decades of work to develop vaccines for similar viruses,” Brake said. “More than 70,000 people of diverse races/ethnicity volunteered for the clinical trials to test the safety and effectiveness of the vaccines. Both vaccines (Pfizer and Moderna) have been shown to be 95 percent effective in preventing COVID-19 with no serious safety concerns.

“Individuals have experienced temporary reactions a day or two after receiving the the vaccine such as having a sore arm, headache or feeling tired or achy… Residents should discuss any concerns with their primary care doctor who can advise them on when they should get the vaccine.”

“The side effects of getting the vaccine are very mild and typically only include mild soreness near the injection site for just a short time,” Smith added.

Health departments

Warren County: 252-257-1185

Halifax County: 252-583-5021

Northampton County: 252-534-5841

Brunswick County: 434-848-2525

Mecklenburg County: 434-738-6545

- Visit https://www.vdh.virginia.gov/ and https://www.ncdhhs.gov/ for more.