The Wilkes County Health Department has announced a schedule of Pfizer vaccination clinics at public high schools as part of an effort to get more young people vaccinated before the 2021-22 school year starts.

The Pfizer vaccine has been approved for people as young as 12. Wilkes Health Department Director Rachel Willard said she’s pleased about the number of teenagers and 12 year olds vaccinated at the health department recently.

Although the emphasis is on students 12 and older, the clinics at the high schools are open to anyone. They are July 12 and Aug. 2 at Wilkes Central High School; July 13 and Aug. 3 at North Wilkes and East Wilkes high schools; July 15 and Aug. 5 at Wilkes Early College High School.

There are two clinics each of these days, from 9 a.m. to noon and from 1-4 p.m. At each location, the first clinic is for first doses and the second clinic is for second doses.

Teenagers 16 and up must have a vaccine consent form signed by a parent or guardian prior to arriving. Those 12-15 must have a parent or guardian present.

The health department is working with the Wilkes County Schools on these clinics.

According to the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services website, 30% of the Wilkes population was fully vaccinated and 33% had received at least one dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine by Tuesday. Those percentages are still among the lowest in the state.

Also by Tuesday, 6,868 Wilkes residents had tested positive for COVID-19 since the pandemic began. As of Monday, Wilkes had 65 active COVID-19 cases and one reported COVID-19 hospitalization.

Wilkes has had 115 confirmed COVID-19-related deaths, with the most recent two reported the first week in June. Willard said one was in his/her 70s and the other in his/her 60s and both died in hospitals outside Wilkes.

Willard said people 16 and under are also making up a larger share of Wilkes residents testing positive. She said a recent slight uptick in COVID-19 cases in Wilkes could be tied to more people getting tested, including teenagers and young adults, as they prepare for summer travel.

She said the health department is also continuing a strategy of small COVID-19 vaccination clinics at locations throughout the county.

These clinics include from 9-11 a.m. and 5-7 p.m. at Skyview Apartments public housing in North Wilkesboro and Sunday at Union Baptist Church in Hamptonville in southeastern Wilkes. Other community clinics are listed on the health department website at https://www.wilkescounty.net/617/Vaccine-Clinic.

Willard said the Moderna, Pfizer and Johnson and Johnson vaccines are available at all the clinics.

She said that in the interest of getting more people vaccinated, state officials are allowing health departments and other care providers more flexibility in leaving portions of vaccine vials unused once they’re opened.

“If you have to open a vial just to vaccinate one person, it’s okay,” she explained. Pfizer has six doses per vial and Moderna vials used by the health department have 10 doses.

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