Vaccination eligibility opens up for those 16 and older in some North Carolina counties, but will they get it?

FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. (WTVD) -- The vaccination rollout has started making its way to teenagers in some counties this week.

When Heather Ward heard there were some extra doses at Cape Fear Valley Health last week, she quickly scheduled an appointment for her 16-year-old son, Christopher.

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"Just went online, made the appointment. The process was so easy."
The mother of three and military wife moved to Fayetteville in the summer of 2020, during the heat of the COVID-19 pandemic.

She says getting the vaccine for her husband, eldest son, and herself was the right move.

"Felt like this is something that we could do to make students feel safe, teachers feel safe, and just kind of in the name of forward progress."

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The Cumberland County Department of Public Health will start officially vaccinating those 16 and older, by appointment, on Wednesday; but, they're not the only ones widening the eligibility.

Both Johnston County and Wayne County have also moved to the next group: Johnston County providing the Johnson & Johnson vaccine to those 18 and older, while Wayne County follows the Cumberland County format.

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Halifax County will also start providing doses to Group 5, with Fort Bragg doing the same on Tuesday for beneficiaries 16 and older.

Doctor Brenda Weis, the Wayne County Health Director, said that this next stage of eligible people will be much more hesitant or just not interested in getting a vaccine.

"Even though the age group opened up, I think that the younger age group is particularly resistant or feeling like they might not need it," Weis said.
Weis says she's spoken to other surrounding county health departments who have been seeing a plateau in demand.

She adds it means health departments will have to do their best to educate and encourage those individuals to reconsider.

"Young kids can still transmit to each other, and they can still transmit to older folks," Weis said.

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The health director going on to say that Wayne County, on Monday, officially downgraded to a yellow severity of COVID-19 community spread. Weis says that's a positive sign, but it also means practicing the 3 W's and vaccinations are key to snuffing out the virus.

"It's been over a year, and we're ready to really get back and one of the surest ways to do that is get vaccinated," Weis said.

A mentality shared by Ward: "I guess to us it was kind of empowering to do something to trend towards normalcy."
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