The new year has ushered in the start of COVID-19 vaccinations here in Lee County. The Health Department has begun vaccinating the essential healthcare workers eligible for the vaccine under the state’s vaccine rollout plan: Phase 1a.

The department has also started registering individuals age 75 and older eligible in Phase 1b-Group 1 and will start vaccinating this group next week.

At this time, the county health department has limited registration for the vaccine to those eligible under Phase 1a and Phase 1b-Group 1. Registration will be expanded to Phase 1b-Groups 2 and 3 at a date to be determined based on the availability and shipments of additional vaccine to the county.

The public is reminded that vaccine supplies remain limited while the demand for the vaccine is high. Staff at our health department is working as quickly as possible to register individuals for the vaccine, schedule vaccination clinics, and administer available vaccine to eligible groups.

We are asking the public for cooperation and patience as we work with the information and resources available to the health department in order to administer the COVID-19 vaccine in an organized and efficient manner.

If you are eligible under Phase 1a or Phase 1b-Group 1, you may register for the vaccine with the Lee County Health Department by calling 919-721-4769 or 984-368-2112. The phone lines are open Monday through Friday, 8 a.m.-noon and 1-5 p.m.

Due to high call volume, individuals may need to call more than once to reach the department to complete their registration. Individuals will be provided with information for the next available drive-thru vaccination clinic at the completion of their registration call. No additional confirmation emails or calls will be made. Registered individuals should proceed to their assigned vaccine clinic at the date and time provided during the registration.

Individuals will receive an immunization record card when they receive their initial COVID-19 vaccine. KEEP THIS CARD! Individuals should bring their immunization record card with them when they return to have their second vaccine administered. The record will include the date of immunization, as well as the vaccine type (Moderna or Pfizer) and the date when the second vaccination is due.

We remain in the early stages of the vaccine rollout plan, so it is important the people continue to be cautious and follow preventative measures to slow the spread of COVID-19. Remember to wear a face mask that covers your nose and mouth while in public, watch your distance and stay 6 feet or more away from others in group settings, and wash your hands thoroughly and frequently.

New COVID-19 cases continue to rise. As of Friday, the county’s rolling seven-day average of new cases is 51.14 and the% positive tests is 16.4%, based on data available on the NCDHHS Dashboard.

COVID-19 remains a serious public health risk in Lee County. While everyone is experiencing COVID fatigue, we must stay vigilant to help protect our own health and the health of our family, friends and neighbors. Please take the necessary steps to stay safe and healthy.

Jamie Brown is spokeswoman for Lee County Government.

Jamie Brown is spokeswoman for Lee County Government.