Pharmacies seeing spike in people wanting COVID-19 vaccinations

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- Some pharmacies are reporting an uptick in people getting their COVID-19 vaccines. There are several possible reasons, including the Delta variant, FDA approval of the Pfizer vaccine and some employers now requiring workers to get vaccinated.

Steve Adkins, the owner of Health Park Pharmacy in Raleigh, said the number of vaccinations there has tripled in the last two weeks. That includes a combination of people getting their first and second doses or booster shots for those who are immunocompromised.

He told ABC11 some of the reasons people are rolling up their sleeves for their COVID-19 shots now.

"Either Delta or having someone close to them hospitalized or lose their life," Adkins said.

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In addition, Dr. Ritesh Patel, of Eastern Carolina Medical Center Pharmacy in Benson, said some employers are now requiring the vaccine.

"Employers are letting their patients or their team members know that if they're going to come back in person, that they would be required to have the vaccine on-boarded and so we have those patients that may have waited," Patel said. "The very last to get their vaccines are starting to come in."

Patel said they were administering about five COVID-19 vaccines a week around June and July. He said they've been administering 20 to 30 shots a day for the past two to three weeks.

"I think there is the scare factor as people are starting to realize that this is a scary thing, and then they're seeing friends and family members in hospitals and I think that's definitely encouraging them," Patel said.

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Christie Ferrell, a pharmacist at Central Pharmacy in Durham, said they've seen a rise in vaccinations in the past two to three weeks.

Betsy Adler went to Health Park Pharmacy for her booster shot of the Pfizer vaccine. The Raleigh resident is immunocompromised.

"I have had three lung operations for lung cancer, and I feel that it will protect me and I don't want to take a chance," Adler said. "I just think this is a wonderful idea that they are providing the third shot so soon, and helping people that do need it so that they do not get sick and I think that everyone should get a vaccine. I know that a lot of people are frightened from it, but I think in the end, seeing what has happened to so many people and the deaths, that they should get it."

Health Park Pharmacy's monoclonal antibody therapy for people infected with COVID-19 is also seeing demand.

Since it's not an infusion pharmacy, they administer subcutaneous injections off-site.

Adkins said most receiving their therapy are unvaccinated.

"Just want to make sure that folks realize that that option is available even if they are unvaccinated, that they don't have to wait until they're sick," Adkins said. "There's a very tight time window-10 days from the onset of symptoms. So, as soon as you are symptomatic, please try to get in touch with someone, so that you can get tested."

He said once they get a positive PCR COVID-19 test, they need a signed order from a patient's physician before they can administer the treatment and that the therapy takes about an hour.

"It's four subcutaneous injections in different sites and the nurse will then monitor them for 60 minutes, just to make sure that they don't have any hypertension or any other side effects. "
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