Meck County health director encourages people to stay up-to-date on COVID-19 vaccines, boosters

CHARLOTTE — Officials with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Wednesday updated COVID-19 vaccine guidance to recommend new bivalent booster vaccines for children as young as 5, hours after the Food and Drug Administration authorized the emergency use of updated boosters.

The bivalent vaccines target the original strain of coronavirus and the BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants of the omicron virus.

The White House COVID-19 response coordinator reported that as many as 15 million people in the U.S. have received the updated boosters since Sept. 1.

Data in Mecklenburg County shows that more than 37,000 people have gotten the booster, which is 3% of the eligible adults in the county.

“We’re still dealing with COVID and it’s not over,” said Dr. Raynard Washington, the public health director for Mecklenburg County. “We have an opportunity in front of us to ensure that we continue to remind people about the importance of this virus.”

Washington believes that’s because people got their booster just before the release of the bivalent shot last month.

He also said that people rely on antibodies from recent COVID-19 cases.

“There are a lot of people recently infected by COVID in the last 90 days, and for some of those individuals, they are delaying their booster dose until they’ve gotten further beyond that threshold,” Washington said.

Resident Rachel Cosme said she doesn’t plan on getting boosted or vaccinated.

“I just don’t believe in it,” Cosme said. “I think that I’ve heard many cases where people have gotten it and have still gotten COVID, so it’s just not my preference.”

>>Watch Channel 9′s LIVE STREAM wherever you are, at this link

Washington stresses now is also the time to get your flu shot, which can be taken at the same time as a COVID-19 vaccine.

The flu shot and COVID-19 booster are available at Mecklenburg County Public Health, most retail pharmacies, through county health system provider networks and other community-based primary care providers.

Northwest Health Department: 2845 Beatties Ford Road

  • Mon, Tues, Thurs, Fri: 8:30 am - 11:30 am; 1:00 pm - 4:30 pm
  • Wed: 10:30 am - 1:30 pm; 3:00 pm - 6:30 pm

Southeast Health Department: 249 Billingsley Road

  • Mon, Tues, Thurs, Fri: 8:30 am - 11:30 am; 1:00 pm - 4:30 pm
  • Wed: 10:30 am - 1:30 pm; 3:00 pm - 6:30 pm

Joshua Palmer, who is experiencing homelessness and normally sleeps in a shelter, said he makes a conscious effort to wash his hands and wear a mask to avoid COVID-19.

“Everybody that I’ve been talking to has been saying they contracted it,” Palmer said.

Palmer said he hasn’t gotten COVID-19 and credits the vaccine.

He plans to get the bivalent booster.

“I don’t want to be able to receive something, then it gets worse, or me contract something, then pass it on,” Palmer said. “That’s the bad part. The pass-it-on part.”

Palmer said that he relies on the vaccine and other precautions to remain free of COVID-19.

“Staying away from people’s germs,” he said. “Trying to keep their germs away from me and keep hand sanitizer all the time.”

VIDEO: FDA authorizes COVID-19 booster in children as young as 5