NC health officials aim to be ‘back to normal’ by July

North Carolina news

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — Nearly half of North Carolinians still need a shot before we reach herd immunity. The state believes we can hit that by July.

“I think back to a year ago and if anyone would’ve told me that’s where we would’ve been in 12 months time, I would’ve probably chuckled,” said Kody Kinsley, NCDHHS chief deputy secretary for health.

State and local health officials say we’re headed in the right direction.

“It’s pretty wild. It’s really exciting to finally be at a place where it’s not doom and gloom, it’s not sad, I can actually be optimistic,” said Dr. Jason Whittes, pharmacy director for Wake County Human Services.

Vaccine supply has gone up, and seven out of ten North Carolinians say they have or will get the shot.

“My wife got her first shot today and I’m here for my second, so it’s a day of shots for the family,” said Doug Banich, who received his second dose Thursday. “It’s exciting to try to get back to normal life and not have to wear a mask and be able to smile at people again.”

Experts say 70 percent vaccinated is the lowest amount to reach herd immunity with COVID-19; 80 percent and higher is ideal.

“We’re less focused on any percent of trying to get to a number and really the full picture of all these tools together as quickly as possible,” said Kinsley.

Kinsley said it will take following the three Ws to drive the virus into the ground, on top of the vaccine.

“I wanted to get it as soon as possible,” said Cynthia Burton who received her shot Thursday. “I think it’s very much necessary and it keeps the country healthier.”

On this current path, officials say we could be back to normal by summer, looking at Independence Day.

Although demand currently outweighs supply overall, there are places, like Johnston County, with too much vaccine doses people aren’t showing up for.

“Of course, there will be pockets, it’s not going to be smooth all across the state. There’s going to be some places where supply will sit a little longer than demand,” said Kinsley.

He says they’re allocating shots to more places, like doctor’s offices and pharmacies, making it easier to get.

“It’s exciting. This is great. The more people the better,” said Darci Vanderslik who received her shot Thursday. “Absolutely no hesitancy to get this vaccine. I wanted to come as soon as I could.” 

Health officials say it’s especially important to make sure everyone and everywhere has access to the vaccine and still follows the three Ws.

Otherwise, the virus could take over small pockets of the community and spread.

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