'We want those numbers much higher': Cumberland County vaccination turn out remains low, despite qualifying groups quickly growing

FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. (WTVD) -- In Cumberland County, the COVID-19 vaccine supply continues to outweigh the demand, prompting Cape Fear Valley Health to start vaccinations for Group 5 on Monday.

On the county level, the Cumberland County Department of Public Health (CCDPH) is well into Group 4, planning to follow the state's current timeline. However, county health officials have moved on ahead of the state in previous groups.

"When we have a new group opening, we see a big rush to get the vaccine. The appointments fill up quickly and then the demand drops off just a bit," Doctor Jennifer Green, director of the CCDPH, told ABC11.

Green credits this to the plentiful amount of vaccine suppliers in the community. From the hospital system, to the health department, all the way to Fort Bragg. The county says the Fayetteville VA and military installation have been pulling some of those residents in their direction.

Despite the progress and comfortable supply, only about 23% of the county's population has received the full series of COVID-19 vaccine doses or just one of them.

It's a number that's reflective in several groups that have qualified for weeks or even months.

CFVH officials tell Eyewitness News around 60% of their frontline workers have received a vaccine, while about 50% of the Cumberland County Schools' employees have received a shot.

"We want to see those numbers much higher than that. We want to see them closer to 70, 80, ideally, a 100 percent of folks that are vaccinated," Green said.
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The numbers relating to qualifying front line workers closely matches a recent study conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation and the Washington Post.

In the study, they gathered 1,327 health care workers to ask a range of questions regarding their vaccination status. The results revealed that nearly half of them had not been vaccinated.

Green acknowledges that vaccine hesitancy is still prevalent in the county. She says some of the factors include the fear of long-lasting effects to the vaccine, those wanting to wait for the Johnson & Johnson vaccine option, or even some who have been advised by their doctors to temporarily avoid the vaccine due to a recent COVID-19 infection. "People are waiting for that single-dose vaccine."

County health officials advise the community to avoid waiting and get the vaccine most readily available in their respective areas.
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