Low-hanging fruit. 

That’s what the first half of the COVID-19 vaccination effort has been for state health officials.

 North Carolina just passed the halfway mark – with over 50 percent of its adult population at least partially vaccinated.  However, so far, it’s been a breeze getting the public into chairs and getting shots into arms.

Doing the same for the remaining half of the population is a much more daunting task.  Vaccines are readily available everywhere North Carolinians turn – but some sites have few to no takers, and some counties in the state have been declining or returning vaccines so that those doses don’t go to waste.  Two months ago, that would have been unimaginable.

On Thursday, May 6, state health officials noted that the halfway mark was a good place to be.

“This is a significant milestone toward our goal of stopping the spread of COVID-19 and bringing summer back to North Carolina,” NC Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen stated in a press release announcing the midpoint of the vaccination process. 

Now the department is turning its attention toward those who are harder to convince.  One thing state officials are doing is putting a more positive spin on how things will be once more state residents get vaccinated.

“I hope you will join the more than 4 million people who have taken their shot and help put this pandemic behind us,” Cohen said to the unvaccinated.

State health officials point out that, if the vaccination effort is successful enough, the state will lift mandatory social distancing, capacity and mass gathering restrictions on June 1. The state has set a goal to get two-thirds of adults vaccinated with at least one shot in order to lift the indoor mask mandate and lighten other public health recommendations. The timeline for this benchmark will be determined by how quickly North Carolinians get vaccinated.

So far, about 7.5 million vaccine doses have been administered in the state and about three-quarters of the population over 65 years of age is fully vaccinated. 

Nearly 40 percent of the state’s total population – regardless of age – has received at least one dose of a vaccine.

Now there’s an all-out effort on the local, state and federal level to convince the unvaccinated – who range from liberal soccer moms to conservative Trump followers to minorities who don’t trust the government thanks to the Tuskegee Experiments.

The state and Guilford County are working to ensure that receiving a COVID-19 vaccine is easy and convenient for anyone 16 and older.  The vaccine is widely available through a variety of providers, usually now with no wait time and without the need for an appointment.  State officials emphasize that you can find a vaccine in your area by using the Find a Vaccine Location tool online or by calling 888-675-4567.