The N.C. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) reported that 21.7% (14,857 people) of Wilkes residents were fully vaccinated for COVID-19 as of Monday.

That’s up from 20.5% a week earlier on April 19 and 17.6% two weeks earlier on April 12. Wilkes Health Department Director Rachel Willard said she believes the lack of interest in being vaccinated for COVID-19 in Wilkes reflects an attitude prevalent in many rural counties.

Wilkes County’s COVID-19 vaccination rate continues to be one of the lowest among counties statewide. Iredell was the only adjoining county with a lower rate on Monday at 20.3%. Watauga had the highest rate among adjoining counties at 32.1%, followed by Alleghany at 29.8%.

Rutherford County had the lowest rate in western North Carolina Monday at 19.6%. Several eastern North Carolina counties had rates in the teens. Hoke County had the lowest in the state, with only 12% of its residents fully vaccinated.

DHHS reported that 38.1% of North Carolina residents were fully vaccinated as of Monday, up from 34.2% a week earlier and 30.01% two weeks earlier.

As of Monday, 6,527 Wilkes residents had tested positive for COVID-19 since the pandemic began. That was 59 more than a week earlier. The total on April 19 was 83 more than on April 12. It increased by 47 in the week before that.

Wilkes had 109 confirmed COVID-19 deaths by Monday, up from 104 on April 1.

Willard said plans are being finalized with Wilkes County School officials for making COVID-19 vaccinations available to students ages 16-18 at schools through the health department’s MESH (Mobile Expanded School Health) van.

Willard said students will need parental permission to be vaccinated. The Pfizer vaccine is approved for people as young as 16. The minimum age for other vaccines is 18.

She said plans are also being made to take another health department van, newly acquired with COVID-19 relief funds, to community centers and other locations for vaccination clinics.

Willard said weekly drive-through vaccination clinics at Lowe’s Park at River’s Edge in Wilkesboro are now instead being held at the health department building on College Street in Wilkesboro due to reduced demand.

This began with the first dose drive-through clinic scheduled at River’s Edge the morning of April 22 being moved to the health department building. Willard said 106 people were vaccinated instead of the goal of 120.

A second dose drive-through clinic was held at River’s Edge the morning of April 23.

Appointments for first dose vaccinations are available in drive-through clinics at the health department from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays and from 4-6 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Second dose drive-through clinics with the Pfizer vaccine are scheduled at Lowe’s Park at River’s Edge in Wilkesboro from 9-10:30 a.m. April 30 and from 9-11 a.m. May 7.

Second dose drive-through clinics are scheduled at the health department with the Pfizer vaccine from 9-10 a.m. May 14 and with the Modern vaccine from 9-10 a.m. May 21.

Willard said people should get their second dose vaccinations from the health care provider who gave them the first dose because second dose allocations are based on first doses.

Vaccination appointments with the health department can be scheduled for first or second doses by calling 336-990-9950 from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.

There is no charge for COVID-19 vaccinations.

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