PINEHURST, N.C. - People 75 and older lined up early Tuesday morning outside the Fair Barn in Pinehurst, and a little sprinkle did nothing to dampen the mood.
Behind masks, there were plenty of smiles as Operation FirstShot got underway.
A joint effort by FirstHealth of the Carolinas, Pinehurst Medical Clinic (PMC) and the Moore County Health Department, Operation FirstShot will allow eligible members of the public to receive COVID-19 vaccinations. Appointments are required for the clinics, which will be held weekly as vaccine supply allows.
Anne Holmes, of Pinehurst, was the first to receive her vaccine.
“I was so excited about today. I’ve taken this pandemic so seriously, and my husband and I have really restricted what we’ve done for months. With the vaccine here, we are hoping things can begin to improve and allow people to see each other again,” she said.
There is one person in particular Holmes said she can’t wait to hug. “I have a new grandchild that is 7 months old, and I want to be able to see him in person instead of on Zoom,” Holmes said.
FirstHealth, PMC and the Health Department developed plans for Operation FirstShot in the last two weeks after the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services announced an updated vaccination plan that aligns with new federal recommendations.
“As cases of COVID-19 continue to skyrocket around our area, it does put a strain on our hospitals and the frontline health care workers who have done so much to care for people over the last several months,” FirstHealth CEO Mickey Foster said. “Today is a huge day as we work to accelerate our vaccination efforts, and I’m thankful for all of the work from our partners to make this possible.”
Currently, FirstHealth and its partners are vaccinating people in Phase 1B Group 1: anyone 75 years or older regardless of medical condition or living situation. In Moore County, FirstHealth Primary Care Clinics and PMC are working to call eligible patients and schedule them for the first of two vaccine doses.
Due to volume and vaccine availability, FirstHealth’s vaccine clinics will not be able to accommodate walk-ins. Patients are encouraged to wait to be contacted by their primary care physician’s office.
Individuals age 75 years or older may also pre-register anytime at moorecountync.gov/shot or by calling 910-947-SHOT (7468) from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., seven days a week. Individuals can then expect a phone call from a Health Department representative to schedule a vaccination appointment for an upcoming vaccine clinic being held at the Health Department in Carthage on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, or Saturdays for the month of January and beyond.
Second doses will be scheduled 21 days after the first dose is administered. FirstHealth will continue coordination of vaccination clinics with other primary care clinics in Moore County for their patients age 75 years old or older in the coming weeks. FirstHealth and Moore County Health Department officials stressed that vaccine supplies are extremely limited. Officials stated they have the capacity to vaccinate more people but are limited to the weekly allotment of vaccine received from the State.
FirstHealth and the Health Department will continue to follow guidelines from the NC DHHS and will begin to vaccinate additional populations beyond the 75+ age group once the State moves to the next phase.
For more details about vaccination clinics and Phase 1B at FirstHealth, please visit www.firsthealth.org/shot