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Appointments now required at Wake County COVID-19 vaccine sites

Posted September 17, 2021 6:34 p.m. EDT
Updated September 20, 2021 8:50 a.m. EDT

— Starting Monday, Wake County will add staff and expand hours at their five permanent vaccine locations. They will also temporarily stop walk-in vaccinations.

On Friday afternoon, the FDA advisory panel recommended that people 65 and older, or people who are at high risk, get a coronavirus booster shot. That decision came about an hour after the panel rejected a plan to support Pfizer booster shots for the general public and healthy Americans.

Local health officials, who have also been watching these developments, were already making changes in Wake County to be ready for whatever decision was made. Health experts are discussing who should get the COVID vaccine booster, especially given the latest vote and the recent surge in case numbers.

"Rates have been increasing with this recent surge," said Stacy Beard, the spokeswoman for Wake County. "We trust they will weigh the science and the data."

Beard says Wake County is getting ready, and that starting Monday they are adding staff and expanding hours at their five permanent vaccine locations. They will increase their capacity 100%.

Starting Monday, she says, they will be able to give out over 1,000 more vaccines than previously.

Those interested can receive a shot at Wake County Human Services Center, Wake County Public Health Center, Wake County Northern Regional Center, Wake County Southern Regional Center and Wake County Eastern Regional Center.

The new hours are:

Wake County Human Services Center, 5809 Departure Drive, Raleigh
Monday–Friday from 8:30 a.m.–4 p.m.

Wake County Public Health Center, 10 Sunnybrook Road, Raleigh
Monday & Friday from 8:30 a.m.–4 p.m., Tuesday & Thursday from 11:45–7:15 p.m. and Saturday from 9 a.m.–4:30 p.m.

Wake County Northern Regional Center, 350 E. Holding Ave., Wake Forest
Monday & Friday from 8:30 a.m.–4 p.m., Tuesday & Thursday from 11:45–7:15 p.m. and Saturday from 9 a.m.–4:30 p.m.

Wake County Southern Regional Center, 130 N. Judd Parkway NE, Fuquay-Varina
Tuesday & Thursday from 11:45–7:15 p.m., Wednesday & Friday from 8:30 a.m.–4 p.m. and Saturday from 9 a.m.–4:30 p.m.

Wake County Eastern Regional Center, 1002 Dogwood Drive, Zebulon
Tuesday & Thursday from 11:45–7:15 p.m., Wednesday & Friday from 8:30 a.m.–4 p.m. and Saturday from 9 a.m.–4:30 p.m.

Effective Monday, the sites will require appointments.

Beard says this will help better organize those coming in for first and second shots – and those who may be cleared to get a booster dose.

"Reserving spots to make sure everybody is served, the best way to do that is appointments," she said.

Dr. Cameron Wolfe, an infectious disease expert with Duke Health, believes that the recommendation is a positive development, but notes that many people in the country still haven't gotten their first shot.

"I think they've actually threaded a very important needle to be honest, and I reckon this is a good outcome," Wolfe said. "Go and get your first dose if you haven't already. Geez, we're talking about a booster. There's 40 percent of people who haven't gotten their first dose."

Wolfe feels more data is needed for the lower-risk and younger populations to recommend a booster.

Wake County officials stress the debate over boosters is not about whether the vaccines work. They say vaccines are very effective at protecting people from severe COVID illness and death.

"We just want the community to know we are prepared – whatever comes," she said.

While appointments will be required at the permanent sites, the county will still provide at pop-up community vaccination clinics.

As for that FDA committee - they want to vote again - but only on a booster recommendation for older adults.

"I think it's going to be very important for the government, based on today's action to make sure we're keeping those strong efforts up so that everyone who is interested in getting a vaccine can get accurate information about it and get a vaccine easily," said Dr. Mark McClellan, Director for the Duke Margolis Center for Health Policy.

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