Meck County leaders frustrated over lack of current vaccine data from state

CHARLOTTE — Mecklenburg County leaders say they are frustrated over a lack of data from the state about who is getting COVID-19 vaccinations and who still needs one.

The county released a chart Friday that shows 20% of residents in the east Charlotte ZIP code 28212 have gotten a COVID-19 vaccine. The 28207 ZIP in Myers Park indicates that 71% of residents there have received the vaccine. However, Mecklenburg County Health Director Gibbie Harris said that data is three weeks old and is not an accurate picture of the current state of affairs.

Harris said the county is expecting more data from the state next week.

[PAST COVERAGE: After slow start, COVID vaccines should remain widely available near Meck County]

In the meantime, Harris said the county is focusing on messaging at the micro-level, meaning individual conversations with people who may be on the fence about whether to get a shot.

“What we’re recognizing is that those individual conversations are going to be critical for some people to be able to get comfortable with taking a vaccine,” Harris said. “Being able to talk to somebody who’s from their community, who looks like them, that they’re familiar with, that they trust is really going to help us turn the corner here.”

Action NC is currently canvassing in the Hidden Valley neighborhood. Leaders say the discussions the group is having with residents will make a huge difference.

“We have to make sure that we are not just in an echo chamber, that we are getting real people information,” said Commissioner Susan Rodriguez McDowell.

(Watch: Mecklenburg County starts door-to-door outreach to educate more about vaccine)

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More than 450,000 Mecklenburg County residents have received at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose, and the metrics are decreasing or stable.

Gov. Roy Cooper -- who will visit Charlotte on Wednesday to see vaccination efforts first-hand -- has said he will remove restrictions on June 1, but the county is preparing for COVID-19 to be with us for quite some of time.

Harris said they are planning to respond to COVID for the next two or three years.

The county is transitioning 26 temporary positions into limited-term roles. The roles include a COVID-19 response director and COVID-19 ambassadors. The employees in those positions will now have benefits.

According to Harris, nearly three-quarters of her staff have worked on something COVID-19-related. She said the department is paying close attention to burnout and the mental health of its staff members.

Some people have quit because they don’t want to deal with the COVID-19 response, she said. Despite their training and background, Harris said she would have to think about whether she would rehire any of them.

“It’s written into every one of our job descriptions in public health that you are hired with the expectation that you respond when we need you to when there is a public health emergency that needs to be addressed,” she said. “That’s written into every job description. People understand that before they’re hired. So, for people then to come back and say, ‘I don’t want to do that work,’ and they decide to quit so they don’t have to do that work, it’s hard for me to understand why I would hire them back. I wouldn’t expect them to act any differently the next time a public health emergency came along.”

The county is preparing for numerous changes in its COVID-19 response in the coming weeks:

  • The vaccine clinic at Bojangles Coliseum is closing on May 22
  • The clinic at MEDIC will close in June
  • The quarantine and isolation hotel will shut down in September
  • Contact tracing is currently happening six days a week, but it may drop to five, depending on metrics

Upcoming vaccine clinics:

  • Black Food Truck Friday Event (5/7)
  • Catawba Brewing (5/7)
  • Camp North End (5/8)
  • Simmons – YMCA (5/10)

Click here for more information on the county’s vaccination event at Camp North End.

(WATCH: No appointment needed: Walmart, Sam’s Club now taking walk-up customers for covid-19 vaccines nation)