CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The pandemic has been an eye-opening, learning experience for most of us, especially for college students studying science.
"We were learning as we went along," Queens University student Irene Kuriakose said.
As the COVID-19 shots became widely available to the community, Kuriakose was in her final semester at Queens University learning about the vaccine in an immunology course.
She jumped at an internship opportunity with "Faith in the Vaccine," which allowed her to work hand-in-hand with Pineville neighbors place, a non-profit supporting low-income families.
"I was able to create my project get creative and do independent things with them like hosting vaccine clinics, making signs and flyers," she said.
Kuriakose had meaningful conversations, helping some hesitant people understand the importance of getting vaccinated.
This type of community effort is needed now more than ever.
In Mecklenburg County, 61% of the entire population is fully vaccinated and 47% of those eligible have gotten boosted.
As omicron causes a major spike in cases and hospitalizations, local health leaders are desperate to build up more immunity.
"We are begging at this point," Mecklenburg County Health Director Dr. Raynard Washington said. "We need folks to get vaccinated so our hospitals can continue to serve those in our community who have urgent health issues."
WCNC Charlotte is part of seven major media companies and other local institutions reporting on and engaging the community around the problems and solutions as they relate to the COVID-19 pandemic. It is a project of the Charlotte Journalism Collaborative, which is supported by the Local Media Project, an initiative launched by the Solutions Journalism Network with support from the Knight Foundation to strengthen and reinvigorate local media ecosystems. See all of our reporting at charlottejournalism.org.