On Dec. 22, the Polk County Health and Human Services Agency (Polk HHSA) and St. Luke’s Hospital received initial doses of Moderna vaccine for COVID-19. Initial vaccinations began a few hours after receiving the vaccine within the healthcare and first responder workforce.
For the past several weeks, both St. Luke’s Hospital and Polk County HHSA have been coordinating vaccine efforts with a larger set of partners from Polk County including Blue Ridge Health, Polk County Schools, Foothills Pharmacy, Columbus Medical, White Oak Manor, Tryon International Equestrian Center (TIEC) and Polk County Government partners including EMS, Emergency Management and the Sheriff’s Department.
“We are excited to begin the process of providing an extremely safe and highly effective vaccine to our local healthcare workforce and long-term care residents,” Polk County Health and Human Services Agency Director Joshua Kennedy said. “This is the beginning of our road to recovery as we continue to vaccinate other populations in Polk County as the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services’ and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s phased plan continues. Since initial supply of vaccine is limited, our partners are continuing the vaccine process through a mass vaccination effort which is by appointment only at this time. We are especially grateful of the partnership with Tryon International Equestrian Center, which is assisting us with our mass vaccination point of dispensing on Tuesday, Dec. 29. Polk County is lucky to have resources and partners ready to serve the public by assisting with the vaccine process.”
Polk County community members interested in scheduling an appointment when their Distribution Phase is open are encouraged to visit the county’s COVID-19 information page at www.polknc.org or by calling the COVID-19 message line at (828) 722-5086. As the various phases open to the public, Polk HHSA will connect community members with vaccine access sites.
According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), on Dec. 18, the FDA issued an emergency use authorization (EUA) for the second vaccine for the prevention of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS CoV-2). The emergency use authorization allows the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine to be distributed in the U.S for use in individuals 18 years of age and older.
In a Dec. 18 press release, the FDA stated it has determined the Moderna vaccine has met the statutory criteria for issuance of a EUA. The release highlights the benefits, both known and potential, of the vaccine. The Moderna COVID-19 vaccine contains messenger RNA (mRNA) that instructs cells in the body to make the virus’ “spike” protein. After a person receives this vaccine, his or her body produces copies of the spike protein which does not cause disease but triggers the immune system to learn to react defensively, producing an immune response against SARS-CoV-2.
“Until we have a significant number of folks in our communities across the United States vaccinated, it will still be important to maintain vigilance with our social distancing, face coverings and washing our hands,” Kennedy said. “While the vaccine is a welcomed addition to our lives, we need to achieve a significant level of immunity in our communities to slow the spread, and eventually stop the spread, of this horrific virus. To help with this, we are encouraging all members of the community to sign up to be vaccinated.”
Community members are at greater risk of spreading and contracting COVID-19 when mixing households and congregating for periods of time greater than 15 minutes. Polk HHSA encourages the use of the 3 W’s to protect themselves and others from COVID-19.
Follow the three W’s:
• Waiting 6 feet apart,
• Wearing of face covering when in public spaces and
• Washing your hands regularly or using hand sanitizer.
If you have any questions at this time or anytime during the vaccine distribution period, please contact Polk County Health and Human Services Agency via their message line at