Vaccination rates low, COVID-19 cases climbing in Bladen County

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BLADEN COUNTY, NC (WWAY) — Bladen County has returned to the red zone. In the latest update of the county alert map, Bladen is now the only county with a critical amount of community spread of COVID-19.

In the last three weeks, the rural county has seen 83 new COVID-19 cases. Most of them associated with a cluster in the Bladenboro community, where 60-percent of the new cases are located.

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“This is completely preventable,” NCDHHS Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen said in a press conference on Monday. “More than 99-percent of new COVID-19 cases in North Carolina are in people who are not fully vaccinated.”

It’s not the lowest rate in the state, but only 33-percent of the population is fully vaccinated in Bladen County.

One resident says she is awaiting a plant-based vaccine, in the meantime, she is relying on her faith.

“I’m not really too worried because God is in control of everything and my life is in his hands,” resident Amber Krisowaty said.

Some deciding to take the vaccine, even after feeling hesitant at first.

“The vaccine is not going to hurt you. At first, I was scared to take it but you know I prayed to God about it so I went on and took it,” resident Charles Pethea said. “I didn’t have any bad side effects or anything, my arm was just sore at that was it.”

County Health and Human Services Director Dr. Terri Duncan says at first they couldn’t keep up with how many people wanted the vaccine.

“We couldn’t answer the phone fast enough,” Duncan said. “In the last month-plus, our vaccination demand dramatically decreased.”

They are working to get vaccines in the arms of everyone who wants one. They have been out into the community, made walk-in times available, and are even giving people vaccines in their own homes.

While some demand remains, it’s really up to the people wanting to get the vaccine.

“I’m asking folks that are hesitant to get a vaccine to talk to their most trusted provider, whether that be their medical physician, nurse practitioner, physician’s assistant, maybe talk to their minister,” Duncan said. “Please come to the health department, let us help dispel some of your anxiety.”

The Bladen County Health Department accepts walk-ins at the COVID-19 vaccine clinic Monday through Thursday from 9 am to 4:30 pm and Friday 9 am to 12 pm.

If you have any questions or would like to make an appointment, call the County COVID Vaccine Hotline at (910) 872-6291.

The health department will be giving vaccines in Bladenboro on Thursday at the Fire Department at 519 W Seaboard Street from 9 am to 3 pm. No appointment is necessary.

For more information, follow the Bladen County Health and Human Services Agency Facebook page.