'We can finally meet friends': Older North Carolinians encourage everyone to get COVID-19 vaccine

Ellen Shepard and her wife Colette are glad they don't have to feel like prisoners in their home anymore.

"We can finally meet friends, we've missed our friends!" said 73-year-old Ellen said. "We've started to go out a little bit and go to dinner."


Ellen is well within the range of people being highlighted for stepping up and getting their COVID-19 shots.

According to the NC Department of Health and Human Services, 82% of people 65 and above have gotten at least one dose in the state.

"I would say to anybody, 'Gosh, get the vaccine!" Ellen said. "It's like if somebody said, you won't get Polio if you get a vaccine, nobody ever thought twice about it."

Dr. David Wohl, who has been leading the COVID-19 fight across UNC Health, said it's encouraging to see how many older people have gotten vaccinated.

"That is the group that bore the brunt of the pandemic in terms of the mortality rate," said Dr. Wohl, who was in Raleigh on Thursday for President Biden's visit to encourage people to get vaccinated. "These are wise people. They were also people who wanted to see their children and grandchildren so it's worked well for them so we have to catch up with our elders."

About eight in ten COVID deaths have been among people 65 and older, according to the CDC.

Margaret Rush and nearly everyone who lives at the Village Hearth LGBTQ+ 55 and up co-housing community in north Durham drove to wherever they could to get a vaccine when it was available.

"We are all more at risk because we're 65 and older," Margaret said. "Many of us have some kind of preexisting conditions. I don't understand why someone wouldn't get the vaccine but we're protecting each other too."
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