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Waiting – Watching – Hoping

AHOSKIE – Small scale medical facilities across the United States are patiently waiting for the time when they can begin administering the COVID-19 vaccine to their patients.

Roanoke-Chowan Community Center (RCCHC) is among such facilities that have yet to be allocated the vaccine for their patients. However, RCCHC employees were among the first to be vaccinated due to their high risk for exposure to the virus.

According to Kim Schwartz, CEO of RCCHC, the majority of the eligible staff did take the vaccine and a total of 87 individuals were vaccinated this past Friday (Jan. 8) by staff with Albemarle Regional Health Services (ARHS).

“We have not received our allocation as of yet and will continue to work with ARHS and other area health departments that are the designated organizations for distribution at this time,” said Schwartz. “When the state receives more vaccine, health centers and other safety net providers are next in line to receive the vaccine for our patients and to assist the community.”

To date, the only public offerings of the vaccine in the local area have been through ARHS and the Northampton County Health Department.

In a press release sent Jan. 8, ARHS officials noted that 8,025 vaccinations were administered last week across its eight-county service. That number included 900 shots in Hertford County; 550 in Bertie County; and 500 in Gates County.

Ahoskie Mayor Weyling White, who works as the Practice Administrator and is a frontline worker at RCCHC’s community COVID testing events, opted to receive the vaccine when offered last week.

“I am very thankful and grateful for our local medical community,” White stated. “Many of our residents have been able to receive quality medical care, COVID-19 tests, and as of recently, the COVID-19 vaccine.

“Our COVID-19 cases continue to surge in North Carolina and is very devastating in communities like Ahoskie where we have a large vulnerable population,” White added. “I chose to get the vaccine because I wanted to do my part in protecting my family and my community.”

Schwartz said when RCCHC does start receiving the vaccine, their allocation will be based upon they area they serve, which is Hertford, Bertie, Northampton, Gates, and Washington counties.

“We have created registries according to the NCDHHS [North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services] priorities list and we plan to contact patients to receive their vaccine when we start receiving an allocation,” she noted. “At that time we also plan on initiating scheduled vaccine clinics across all RCCHC sites.”

Until that time arrives, Schwartz and White stress the importance of following the guidelines put in place last year that are designed to slow the spread of this virus.

“Even getting the vaccine, our communities must continue to protect themselves, their families, and friends by wearing a mask when you are not with people you live with, maintain social distance, and wash your hands frequently,” Schwartz said.

“Everyone can do their part in our community to slow the spread of COVID-19,” White remarked. “When out in public, keeping distance from others, frequent hand washing, and most importantly wearing a mask. I know that we are eager to be around our loved ones and friends but limiting gatherings to just those who live in your household can also prevent the spread of COVID-19.”

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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