With cases climbing in NC, experts hope getting COVID-19 vaccine doses to doctors’ offices will reverse trend

Coronavirus

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – With the number of teens and adults getting COVID-19 vaccines slowing dramatically in North Carolina, doctors hope to offer shots in familiar places, like primary care or pediatric offices, can encourage more people to get the vaccine.

For a while, people who wanted a vaccine had to go to a place like a mass vaccination center or pharmacy to get it. Doctors say that worked for those who were eager to be vaccinated, but for those who are on the fence, or simply don’t feel like making a trip to a pharmacy or vaccination site, getting it during a doctor’s appointment may be the best option.

Maylonnie Downey, 15, has had quite a few conversations about the COVID-19 shot.

“I talked about it with my doctors and my mom,” she said.

Although kids her age became eligible for the shot in May, Downey, who has cystic fibrosis and sickle cell disease, just got her shot on Friday when COVID-19 vaccines were available at one of her regular medical appointments.

“She said, ‘Do you want the shot today?'” she recalled.

“We’re offering them to anybody who’s coming in for their specialty clinic appointment,” said Dr. Ceila Loughlin, a pediatric pulmonologist at UNC and medical director of UNC’s Specialty Services at Raleigh.

Loughlin said the clinic has only had vaccines available for patients for about two weeks.

“For those who still felt a little uncomfortable or want to talk to us before getting it, it’s a great way. They get it right in clinic with doctors they know,” she said.

UNC is shifting its vaccination strategy away from mass clinics toward doctors’ offices. According to UNC, each office must register with the state, but UNC is getting so many vaccine doses from the state that it can transfer those shots to doctors’ offices and clinics within the health system.

Duke is also making vaccines available at some family practices, urgent cares, and pediatricians.

“That relationship with the pediatrician, I think, will really help families to feel comfortable giving the COVID vaccine to their teens,” said Dr. Kitty O’Hare with Duke Primary Care Pediatrics. “Families really trust their pediatricians and come to know their pediatrician as a trusted source of information.”

Loughlin added: “Being able to offer it to them right there when you’re having that conversation and being able to give them data about the vaccine and why it’s important seems to be helping.”

Downey is glad she got the shot so she can feel comfortable going back to school in person.

“There’s a lot of germs in a school,” she said. “I just like knowing that I have it so I’ll feel safe.”

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