Can you choose which COVID-19 vaccine you get? And other questions answered

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NEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC (WWAY) — Though vaccinations have been underway for a few months now, many still have questions about the process and the vaccines themselves.

Governor Roy Cooper announced on Tuesday that the state could move forward to Group 3 of vaccination efforts, but New Hanover County isn’t taking that step just yet. They are working on vaccinating Group 1, Group 2, and educators, specifically focusing on getting 10 to 15 percent more of the 65 and up population vaccinated before moving on.

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“That age group accounts for 90%+ of the deaths that are happening in our region and that’s very important to us,” Interim Health Director David Howard said. “So we want to refocus on them while we, and other providers, continue moving into group three.”

This is because counties have some flexibility in when they move forward, however they are not permitted to move onto other phases before the state announces them.

While county health is not taking this step just yet, places like Walgreens, other pharmacies, and private providers are catering to everyone who is eligible.

Many ask since you can choose where to be vaccinated, can you choose which vaccine to get?

The Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which is a only single-dose vaccine option, was set to arrive in North Carolina on Wednesday. Vaccines currently available in most counties include the Moderna and Pfizer options.

“The best vaccine you can get is the one you can get as soon as possible,” Howard said. “We encourage everyone to not read too much into information that might be floating around about which one is better than the other. All of them are excellent and we are not taking appointments by vaccine brand, we see no value in that.”

New Hanover County does not provide a “vaccine-shopping option” for residents because county health says they utilizes any and all vaccine that is supplied from the state. When someone comes to a vaccine site for an appointment, they are informed about the vaccine they will receive at that time. But the county does not routinely announce in advance which brand is being administered on a given day or at a given location, because vaccines administered may vary throughout the day depending on supply and brand available.

If you are able to score an appointment through county health, but find a pharmacy or other location to vaccinate you sooner, County Spokeswoman Jessica Loeper says to make sure you cancel your existing appointment.

“Even if it’s the day before, let us know because those spots are really valuable and we want to make sure that somebody’s in it,” Loeper said.

If you have individual concerns about the vaccine relating to your health conditions, you should contact your primary care provider, but county health officials say if you have had COVID-19, you should still get the vaccine. If you’d like to wait a period after recovering, Assistant Health Director Carla Turner recommends 14 days.

Additionally, county health is operating on an honor code, not asking for proof of eligibility when you make your appointment. Some locations, like pharmacies, will ask questions to confirm your eligibility and may even ask to see ID to confirm the person who made the appointment is the one receiving the vaccine.

For information on how and where to get your vaccine, visit here.