The Wilkes County Health Department is continuing an emphasis on vaccinating people for COVID-19 at churches, parks, events and other sites as part of a strategy of making it more convenient, said Wilkes Health Director Rachel Willard.

Willard said a health department van, equipped for this type of outreach, is being used. The vehicle was purchased with COVOD-19-related federal funds.

Upcoming vaccination events are scheduled May 22 at St. John’s Catholic Church near C.C. Wright Elementary School in North Wilkesboro; 5:30-8:30 p.m. May 24 at North Wilkesboro’s Memorial Park; 5:30-8:30 p.m. May 24 at Lowe’s at River’s Edge Park in Wilkesboro; 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. June 13 at Union Baptist Church in Hamptonville; 6-9 p.m. June 19 at the Yadkin Valley Marketplace (when a concert is scheduled) in downtown North Wilkesboro; and 3-7 p.m. July 10 at a Wilkes County Cruisers event at the Yadkin Valley Marketplace.

Willard said the health department is still making the vaccine available to high school students through regularly-scheduled Mobile Expanded School Health (MESH) van visits to East Wilkes, West Wilkes, North Wilkes, Wilkes Central and Wilkes Early College high schools.

The MESH unit goes to Wilkes Early College High School once every two weeks and once a week to each of the other high schools. Both students and staff can be vaccinated then.

Willard said 54 Wilkes high school students 16 and older were vaccinated with the Pfizer vaccine in a recent two-week period. Parental consent is required for a student in the Wilkes schools to be vaccinated while at school.

She plans are being made for a big “back to school” vaccination push for students and school staff in July.

She said that including those vaccinated elsewhere, around 200 Wilkes teenagers have now received the vaccine.

People can also still make appointments for vaccinations at the Wilkes County Health Department. Go to https://www.wilkescounty.net/617/Vaccine-Clinic for more details.

Wilkes County’s COVID-19 vaccination rate remains among the lowest in the state. By Tuesday, 23.4% of all Wilkes residents had been vaccinated. Statewide, 46.6% of adults had been vaccinated.

Also by Tuesday, Wilkes County’s confirmed COVID-19 case total stood at 6,709. The county had 113 confirmed COVID-19-related deaths by then, with the last one reported late last week. Willard said it was a person in his/her 80s with a pre-existing health condition who died at home.

Despite the easing of mask restrictions, Willard said she recommends that Wilkes businesses continue requiring wearing masks in their establishments due to the “vaccine hesitancy” in Wilkes.

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