Vaccine rates tick up in NC with delta spreading, and the 25-to-49 age group is driving the increase

North Carolina news

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — New weekly vaccinations in North Carolina were up by at least 90 percent from where they were when the delta variant-driven surge in the state started to drive up the number of new cases.

And people between the ages of 25 and 49 — a group marked by higher than usual rates of resistance — make up a growing share of those vaccinations per week.

Dr. Alan Brookhart, a population health sciences professor at Duke University, calls it “a very rational response to the delta surge.”

About 43,000 first doses of vaccine were given across the state during the week of July 12, when the rapidly spreading delta variant led to increases in the number of new cases, according to state Department of Health and Human Services data.

The number of new vaccinations jumped to nearly 82,000 last week — and DHHS says even that count might be incomplete and could grow further.

“We are seeing an uptick in in vaccinations in the state,” Brookhart said. “But I think we need to be clear. We have a long way to go.”

Among people in the 25-to-49 age group, that figure has grown by more than 125 percent.

They accounted for about 15,000 of those first doses during that week in mid-July. That number has consistently grown during the three full weeks that followed, rising to nearly 35,000 last week.

That age group also captured an increasingly larger share, from 36 percent of all first doses during the July 12 week to 42 percent last week — the largest increase in share of any age group tracked by DHHS during that time.

A survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation ranked 22 subgroups based on their level of vaccine hesitancy. The percentage of people between the ages of 30 and 49 who said they would “definitely not” get the vaccine was 18 percent while 59 percent said they’d already received one dose.

Both of those rank sixth-worst among those subgroups, ahead of only white evangelical Christians, people between 18-29, rural residents, Republicans and those uninsured under 65.

“There is more vaccine hesitancy in that age group than there would be, say, in younger, younger-aged patients,” Brookhart said.

Brookhart says people in that age group tend to be those who either had concerns about the vaccine or wanted more information.

“I think perhaps these are the people who are starting to get vaccinated now,” Brookhart said.

Of course, it’s not a quick fix. 

It will still be a while before those newly vaccinated people have the most protection: It takes 5-6 weeks from the first shot of one of the two-dose vaccines to develop full protection, with part of the lag attributable to the waiting period of 3-4 weeks between Dose 1 and Dose 2.

But at least they will have some level of protection two weeks after the first shot.

“I think we’ll be dealing with this for a long time,” Brookhart said. “So the sooner you get vaccinated, the better. But it’s never too late.”

CBS 17’s Joedy McCreary has been tracking COVID-19 figures since March 2020, compiling data from federal, state and local sources to deliver a clear snapshot of what the coronavirus situation looks like now and what it could look like in the future.

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