This story was last updated at 10:33 am on Tuesday, April 20.
Vaccine supply is catching up with demand as healthcare providers offer walk-in appointments.
Why it matters: It’s simple — the more people with access to the vaccine, the better. And the more folks that are vaccinated, the faster the pandemic will end.
- Unlike the beginning of the vaccine rollout in December, appointments are easier to come by, and some locations no longer require appointments. [Go deeper]
How it works: There are multiple healthcare systems offering vaccines locally. We’ve noted which ones have walk-in vaccine locations.
Each link goes directly to a site to register and either get on a waitlist or secure an appointment.
- Mecklenburg County Health Department (The county is offering walk-in appointments at select locations.)
- StarMed (They’re offering walk-in appointments at various sites including Bojangles Coliseum. Check Twitter for updates.)
- Atrium Health (Atrium offers some walk-in appointments at Bank of America Stadium.)
- Novant Health (All vaccination sites are offering walk-in appointments as supply allows.)
- Harris Teeter
Here are a few other frequently asked questions about the vaccine:
When will the vaccine be widely available to everyone?
All North Carolinians 16 and older are eligible for a COVID vaccine as of April 7. Additionally, supply is catching up with demand, and appointments are much easier to find.
How has pausing the use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine impacted Charlotte?
The pause is due to a rare blood clotting issue found among six women (out of almost 7 million people) who took the vaccine.
Atrium and Novant, Charlotte’s largest healthcare providers, have said the pause won’t have a great impact on their ability to distribute vaccines. However, the pause does impact large vaccine events where participants will now have to schedule second doses.
- If you’ve had the J&J vaccine within two weeks, monitor yourself for severe headache, visual changes, weakness of face or limbs, swelling of the extremities. These side effects are unlikely, but you should talk to your doctor if they develop, Dr. David Priest of Novant said.
- If it’s been more than two weeks since you got the J&J vaccine, you’re at low risk for developing any severe symptoms. [Go deeper]
How do we know which vaccine to get? (Pfizer, Moderna, etc.)
Healthcare providers will share which vaccine(s) they’re offering ahead of time.
Note: The Pfizer vaccine has to be stored at extremely cold temperatures, but the Moderna vaccine can be stored in a standard refrigerator. Because of the storage requirements, more rural healthcare systems are receiving Moderna vaccines. Hospitals in larger areas with more resources are better equipped to store the Pfizer vaccine.
Will it be mandatory?
The Covid vaccine will not be required by the federal government.
State governments and employers may require the vaccine for specific groups, however, like students or healthcare workers. Vaccine requirements are common. North Carolina kindergartners, for example, are required to have nine vaccines.
Employers can also require the vaccine, but most probably won’t.
What can you say to people who are afraid of taking the vaccine?
Data shows the vaccines are effective with minimal side effects. Here’s more from the CDC.
Atrium infectious disease physician Dr. Lewis McCurdy says, “Immunizations have really made the world a safer place. My hope is that people will step up and take the vaccine, because I do think it’s going to be a significant way to reduce the length this pandemic.”
Learn more about Operation Warp Speed and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ efforts to develop a safe vaccine.
If you’ve had COVID-19 (or have the antibodies), should you get the vaccine?
Yes, according to medical experts including the CDC.
It’s unclear how long natural immunity to COVID-19 lasts after infection. There are examples of people being infected with COVID-19 twice, including in Mecklenburg County.
How many shots will the vaccine require?
The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines both requires two shots. The shots are spaced three to four weeks apart.
The Johnson & Johnson vaccine only requires one shot.
What are the side effects?
Common side effects include pain and swelling at the injection site, and fever, chills, fatigue, and headache. Learn more about side effects here.
Has it been tested on children?
There hasn’t been a COVID-19 vaccine approved for children, but clinical trials are underway.
Should I get the vaccine if I’m pregnant?
The vaccine is available to pregnant and breastfeeding adults, but there is limited data on overall safety and side effects. The CDC has this list of considerations for pregnant and breastfeeding adults.
Would you recommend a healthy and young person get the vaccine? Why?
Medical professionals recommend that everyone take the vaccine when it’s available to them. While the majority of young, healthy people have less severe reactions to coronavirus, that’s not always the case. Additionally, young, healthy people are still able to spread the virus to those who are at risk for severe symptoms.
Is an effective vaccine going to put an end to statewide restrictions? What is the end goal?
Some restrictions have already been lifted as the result of improving COVID metrics and increased vaccinations. But, until we reach herd immunity, which means enough people in the community have the antibodies to fight the virus, some level of restrictions will stay in place.
For more on information check out all the latest on coronavirus in Charlotte here.