Plans for drive-through COVID-19 vaccination clinics at the four Wilkes County middle schools for all eligible people were announced Tuesday by Wilkes Health Department Director Rachel Willard.

Willard said current plans are to have them on the third Saturday of each month at East Wilkes, West Wilkes, Central Wilkes and North Wilkes middle schools, starting March 20. She said the amount of COVID-19 vaccination allocated to the Wilkes Health Department could impact these plans.

Willard said vaccination clinics are being held at the four middle schools to help make it easier for all Wilkes residents to get vaccinated. Times for these clinics will be announced soon.

She said enough Pfizer vaccine was allocated for 1,170 doses to be administered at Tyson facilities in four North Carolina locations, including Wilkesboro, on Friday and Saturday. The other three are Claremont, Monroe and Sanford.

Matrix Medical staff will vaccinate Tyson employees at the company’s chicken processing complex in Wilkesboro. This will be the third COVID-19 vaccination clinic at the Wilkesboro complex, with vaccine provided by the Wilkes Health Department.

Willard said the health department will also provide vaccine for a clinic at InterFlex on N.C. 268 West in Wilkesboro on March 16. She said about 50 employee vaccinations are expected there. Staff of Target Care, an occupational health agency similar to Matrix Medical at Tyson, will administer the vaccine.

Meanwhile, COVID-19 case numbers are still gradually dropping in Wilkes and most other counties in North Carolina.

On Tuesday, the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services listed Wilkes with 254 new cases per 100,000 people the last two weeks and 6,079 cases since the pandemic started. Cases per 100,000 the prior two weeks in counties adjoining Wilkes ranged from 224 in Alleghany to 347 in Watauga.

DHHS listed Wilkes with four confirmed COVID-19 deaths Tuesday, after earlier showing Wilkes with five such deaths.

DHHS said more categories of people of people eligible for vaccination will be added March 24. They’re all in Group 4 and include people with high-risk medical conditions, those experiencing homelessness, and incarcerated people not already vaccinated

North Carolina plans to move to other essential workers and other people in close group living settings after that. “Some vaccine providers may not be ready to open to Group 4 on this date if they are still experiencing high demand for vaccines in Groups 1 through 3,” DHHS stated.

Got to for assistance in determining vaccine eligibility.

Eight categories of “frontline essential workers,” regardless of age, became eligible for vaccination statewide on March 3. They are all in Group 3.

These include people employed in the food and agriculture industry (restaurants, meat packing, food processing and food distribution and others); college and university instructors and support staff; government and community services (including clergy); public health and social work; public safety; transportation; production of medical supplies and goods needed for food supply chains; and in stores selling groceries and medicine.

People in all eight groups must be present in-person at their place of work to be eligible for vaccination. Then same is true for child care center and pre-K to 12th-grade teachers and related personnel, who became eligible statewide on Feb. 24.

Medical personnel with potential direct exposure to COVID-19 and staff and residents of long-term residential care facilities also are eligible.

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