'Don't wait to vaccinate!:' Urgent new warning as NC sees troubling COVID signs

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- There's an urgent new warning from North Carolina public health officials: don't wait to vaccinate. More patients are going to local emergency rooms with COVID-like illnesses; viral levels are elevated in wastewater in parts of the state; and the Delta variant, more infectious and more deadly, is rapidly spreading here.

"We're really targeting our younger people," said WakeMed psychiatrist Dr. Nerissa Price, a member of the Sister Circle - a group of Black women WakeMed physicians who teamed up over the winter to boost vaccine equity in underserved communities.

To date, 14,000 people have received COVID shots at Sister Circle events. But vaccine resistance is still a major hurdle. The conversations to convince hesitant people are getting harder.

"There are those who are extremely against getting the vaccine and I don't think it's gonna be a conversation. In fact, when we talk, there's some hostility even when we ask about the possibility of getting a vaccine," Dr. Price said. "But, then there are those you can tell are still on the fence. May be it is that there is just one more thing that they need to hear about in order to convince them to get the shot."



Unvaccinated North Carolinians are now more than 99% of new COVID-19 cases statewide. The Delta variant, which spreads faster than current COVID variants now accounts for more than half of new cases nationwide.

"While we were seeing evidence of herd immunity before the Delta variant, right now cases are going up we absolutely do not have population immunity against this variant," said ABC News medical contributor Todd Ellerin.

Back in the Triangle, Dr. Price and the Sister Circle are honing in younger people. Many of whom, she says, are still buying into the myth that COVID is not their problem.

"But the Delta variant really is bringing it home: it is your problem," she said. "Because, unfortunately, it is getting young people very sick and people are still dying."

The Sister Circle is taking that message to Raleigh's Heritage Park public housing community later this month. A mass vaccination event is planned there on Thursday, July 29 from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.
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