Today, Governor Roy Cooper and North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Mandy K. Cohen, M.D. provided an update on the state’s COVID-19 key metrics and trends.
“As new variants emerge and COVID continues to circulate, getting vaccinated and then boosted is the best way to protect yourself and get us out of this pandemic,” said Governor Roy Cooper. “Vaccines and boosters are widely available, and you can make an appointment today to give yourself this protection and more peace of mind.”
North Carolina’s key metrics have all been increasing, including people going to the Emergency Department with COVID-like symptoms, cases, the percent of tests that are positive, and hospitalizations. In addition, the state is once again classified as red by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicating high community transmission.
With the holidays approaching and people getting together, there is greater risk of getting and spreading COVID-19. To reduce the risk, North Carolinians should get vaccinated as soon as possible and get a booster as soon as they are eligible. Health leaders also recommend getting tested, even if you are vaccinated, before and after you travel and before gathering with others. Everyone should continue to wear a mask when in indoor public settings.
Now everyone 16 and older can get a COVID-19 booster to strengthen and extend the protections against COVID-19. Last week the FDA expanded the authorization of the Pfizer COVID-19 booster shot to include 16- and 17-year-olds. The Pfizer booster is the first and only COVID-19 booster authorized for use in 16- and 17-year-olds. Parental consent is required.
“People who are unvaccinated are vulnerable to COVID-19. Almost all hospitalizations and deaths are in people who are not vaccinated,” Secretary Cohen said. “If you haven’t got vaccinated yet, please talk with a doctor, nurse or other medical professional. With the holidays, colder weather and the potential of a new variant approaching, please don’t wait any longer to get vaccinated.”
Today Governor Cooper and Secretary Cohen also highlighted changes in federal law that make obtaining health insurance more affordable. In North Carolina, as many as 116,500 uninsured people are newly eligible for lower premiums, while 112,600 more may be eligible for coverage at no cost. The funding for this is through the American Rescue Plan, which became law in March.
The deadlines to enroll and to take advantage of lower premiums are fast approaching. Those who need coverage in place by Jan. 1, 2022, must sign up by Wednesday, Dec. 15. Open enrollment ends Jan. 15, 2022, with coverage taking effect at later dates. At HealthCare.gov, North Carolinians can compare plan benefits, costs and other features. Plans include essential health benefits and preventive care, in addition to mental health care, emergency room care and maternity coverage, not limited by caps or pre-existing conditions.
To date, North Carolina has administered over 14 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, with 69 percent of the adult population fully vaccinated. 73 percent of adults have received at least one dose of the vaccine, including 94 percent of North Carolinians 65 and over.
North Carolinians can learn more about the state’s vaccine distribution at myspot.nc.gov (English) or Vacunate.nc.gov (Spanish). Visit NCDHHS’ page Walk-in Family Vaccination Sites to find a family vaccine event. Use NCDHHS’ online tool Find a Vaccine Location to find a nearby vaccination site. The North Carolina Vaccine Help Center at 888-675-4567 can also help you make an appointment. It is open 7 a.m.–7 p.m. on weekdays and 8 a.m.–4 p.m. on weekends.