DOBBINS HEIGHTS — More than 30 people received their COVID-19 vaccination Sunday afternoon during an event at the Dobbins Heights Community Center.
Just five minutes after the event was scheduled to begin at 1 p.m., Interim County Health Director Cheryl Speight said six people had already taken the shot.
“They were waiting on us,” she said.
Prior to an opening prayer, Mayor Antonio Blue said, “Things are starting on the right track.”
Because of limited supplies of the Pfizer vaccine, which is the only one authorized for kids aged 12-17, Speight said the Richmond County Health Department is limiting it to the younger population and giving the Moderna shot to adults. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine is no longer available through the Health Department.
Hoke County physician Dr. Karen Smith stopped by to offer any assistance.
Smith is a state delegate of the Academy of Family Physicians and the Region 3 representative for the N.C. Medical Society Board of Directors.
In addition to Richmond and Hoke counties, Region 3 also includes Cleveland, Gaston, Mecklenburg, Cabarrus, Union, Stanly, Anson, Montgomery, Moore, Scotland, Robeson, Sampson, Bladen, Harnett and Cumberland counties.
“A lot of folks are hesitant about the vaccine,” Smith said. “We’re doing whatever we can to encourage people to get the shot.”
Smith said residents should get vaccinated to protect themselves and their families.
“If we’re going to grow our community, we need to come together,” Smith added.
Hoke County physician Dr. Karen Smith, right, speaks with Interim Health Director Cheryl Speight.
As of Friday, 16,003 Richmond County residents were fully vaccinated, accounting for 36% of the population, according to the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services.
Comparing other counties in the region, there are six (Mecklenburg, Union, Cabarrus, Hoke, Moore and Cumberland) with at least a 40% vaccination rate, and four (Stanly, Montgomery, Anson and Robeson) with a lower rate than Richmond.
Robeson is the lowest in the region with only 28% fully vaccinated.
As County Manager Bryan Land pointed out during this month’s meeting of the Richmond County Board of Commissioners, the rate listed by the state includes the entire population. The percentage of those who are actually eligible for the vaccine is even higher.
Several people, including Hamlet City Councilman Maurice Stuart and Seafoodie owner Kendale Robinson, went live to try to encourage more people to come out.
Robinson, who grew up in Dobbins Heights, was also giving out free plates to anyone who came to the Community Center, whether or not they got the shot.
In all, 33 people were vaccinated Sunday, according to Speight.
While the Health Department was administering vaccinations, a representative from Greater Carolina ENT in Rockingham was offering COVID testing.
Several people were swabbed, including Cheryl Washington-Streeter, a Dobbins Heights resident who teaches Kindergarten in Cheraw, South Carolina.
In addition to being a teacher, Washington-Streeter also lives with her elderly mother.
“I’ve got to make sure I’m health when I go into that classroom,” she said, adding that she has been fully vaccinated since March, but because of breakthrough cases — infections of those who have been vaccinated for at least two weeks — with the Delta variant of COVID-19, she was being cautious. “As a teacher, this is what we’ve got to do.”
More than 120 cases were reported in Richmond County from Tuesday to Friday, according to the Health Department, but it is not yet known how many, if any, of those were breakthrough cases.
There were also seven COVID-related deaths reported in a week.
FirstHealth had 100 COVID-positive patients in its hospitals as of Aug. 12 and that number has not been updated since.
Richmond Community College is hosting a vaccination clinic Aug. 16-17 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the Lee Building on the Hamlet Campus.
Vaccines are available at the Health Department Monday-Thursday 8 a.m.-5 p.m. and Fridays from 8-11 a.m. There is no charge and no appointment necessary.