DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) – As the state prepares to draw two more winners in the COVID-19 vaccine lottery on Wednesday, data shows the number of people getting his or her first doses of the vaccine are still declining.
On Tuesday, the Biden administration also announced additional steps it plans on taking to try to increase vaccinations, as health officials warn of the impacts of the quickly-spreading Delta variant.
“As you introduce a more contagious variant into the population, those unvaccinated people can get sick, transmit to other people and then the disease can come back,” Dr. Michael Smith, a pediatric infectious disease specialist at Duke Health, said.
Updated data on Tuesday from the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services shows the state continues to see a drop each week in people initiating the two-shot vaccination process. However, the good news is, the drop-off each week is much less pronounced than it was in the spring.
When Gov. Roy Cooper announced the vaccine lottery the week of June 7, 52,682 first doses were administered in North Carolina. That number dropped to 48,389 the following week, and fell further to 45,154 first doses the week after that (June 21).
Data is still preliminary for the week of June 28, but NCDHHS is reporting that only 18,678 first doses were given.
Furthermore, the state announced it is giving away four $1 million dollar prizes to vaccinated adults and four college scholarships valued at $125,000 thousand dollars for kids under the age of 18.
“If you’re someone who’s choosing not to get the vaccine, you may have specific personal reasons. But, at this point it’s about everyone in our community,” Karen Hammond, a pharmacy manager for CVS in Durham, said.
Additionally, Hammond helped run a clinic at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park on Tuesday.
The goal? Vaccinating students, and their families, who will be attending the new Cristo Rey Research Triangle High School in Durham.
However, in the first several hours, only two people showed up for vaccinations, Hammond said.
“Getting the vaccine is beyond individuals and ourselves, we need to do it for our community,” she said. “But, we still need to make it really easy, especially for underserved communities (and) people that may have transportation problems.”
When classes begin in mid-August, Cristo Rey will welcome between 80 and 100 students for in-person classes.
The school is “a college and career preparatory school exclusively for economically underserved boys and girls, who come from Hispanic and African-American communities that have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic.”
Founding president Dr. Mike Fedewa said he and other school administrators aim to have kids in class five days per week and want to encourage vaccinations as a way to ensure that’s done as safely as possible.
“The bottom line is this: we are going to open up. And, we want our folks to embrace the vaccination process,” he said. “The whole notion of returning to normalcy really depends on our ability to say to parents we’re doing everything possible to create a safe environment.”
President Joe Biden on Tuesday tried to stress the urgency of getting vaccinated, adding that the administration will work to expand mobile clinics and get more vaccine doses to pediatricians, among other steps.
Finally, as of Tuesday, the NCDHHS reported about 53-percent of the state’s adult population is fully vaccinated.