Columbus County still lags behind most of the state in vaccinations for COVID-19, but officials hope a series of clinics puts a dent in that this week.
StarMed will offer the Pfizer vaccine to anyone 12 and up at six locations this week, according to the Columbus County Health Department. The health department’s announcement noted that “incentives” will be available for those receiving vaccines.
The dates and locations are
• Tuesday, East Columbus High School, Lake Waccamaw, 2-6 p.m.
• Wednesday, West Columbus High, Cerro Gordo, 1-5:30 p.m.
• Thursday, South Columbus, Tabor City, 1-5:30 p.m.
• Friday, Mt. Moriah church, 5333 Andrew Jackson Hwy., Cerro Gordo, 1-5 p.m.
• Saturday, Central Baptist Church, Virgil Street, Whiteville, 9 a.m. – 2 p.m.
• Sunday, Southeastern Community College, Chadbourn Hwy., Whiteville, 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.
Health department Director Kim Smith told county commissioners last week that the current surge is primarily among unvaccinated individuals. Quoting figures from the state Department of Health and Human Services and the Centers for Disease Control, Smith said the Delta Variant spreads twice as easily as the original COVID-19.
As of July 28, Smith said, Columbus had nine patients in the local hospital and five in New Hanover. Patients 18-49 years of age have seen the bulk of the new cases, she said.
“The vaccine is highly effective in preventing hospital stays and death in those who get the virus,” she said.
State data shows Columbus County has had 7,318 cases of COVID-19 since March 2020, with 161 deaths. Those numbers include 565 newly diagnosed cases in the past 14 days. The county had a population of just over 56,000 in 2019, and the current positivity rate is hovering around 12.3 percent.
Columbus vaccination rates are rising, according to state figures, although other counties are far ahead. More than 20,000 vaccinations had been reported here by Friday, including 18,143 people are fully vaccinated, or 33 percent. Statewide, 51 percent of the population has received at least one dose, with 47 being fully vaccinated.
“There are vaccines available. If you have not gotten a shot, you should,” Smith said.