Breaking News
More () »

Charlotte's Leading Local News: Weather, Traffic, Sports and more | Charlotte, North Carolina | WCNC.com

'There are plenty of spots' | Mecklenburg County Health officials urge people to get COVID-19 vaccine

There are more appointments available in more places and for the first time, that means appointments aren't being snatched up in a matter of minutes.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Mecklenburg County Public Health Director Gibbie Harris and Public Health Medical Director Dr. Meg Sullivan gave an update on COVID-19 vaccination efforts in the Charlotte metro area.

The supply of vaccines in Mecklenburg County is growing. There are more appointments available in more places and for the first time, that means appointments aren't being snatched up in a matter of minutes.

The county has given more than 80,000 doses so far and has transferred tens of thousands of doses to pharmacies and other providers.

"I think the appointments are more available than they were but we’re also seeing a tipping point where we’re moving from demand outpacing supply to supply and demand sort of balancing out at this point," Harris said.

On Wednesday, North Carolina opened COVID-19 vaccine eligibility to everyone 16 years of age and older. Health officials are urging people to make an appointment and said it will be key in some of the remaining restrictions being pulled back.

"We need people to make the effort to get vaccinated. It's worth it. It's worth it to you, it's worth it to the individuals around you. Those you love, those you care about and those you work with," Harris said. "But it's important to our entire community if we are going to be able to continue to open up and try to normalize things a bit."

Real-world data shows the vaccines are safe and effective but the county, state and country are still far from herd immunity. The county shifting its focus to community education

"Really trying to go out and reach everybody to address any concerns and questions they may have and reinforce the data that continues to come out around the safety and effectiveness of these vaccines and b, the importance of these vaccines for themselves their families and the community," Sullivan said. "I think the efforts we've been doing it's just going to be really, really, really  reinforcing those and increasing them in the community."

The health department will hold a large-scale vaccination event on Saturday, April 17 at Camp North End. It runs from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. The number of appointments available hasn't been released yet.

RELATED: 'It's so great to be here': Inside Novant Health's COVID-19 vaccine clinic

The supply and appointments are available but the next challenge is ensuring people take advantage of them.

"There are plenty of spots and plenty of vaccine for the spots that are available," Dr. Katie Passaretti with Atrium Health said.

Many of the vaccine providers in the area got the largest allocation yet this week and expect it will only grow.

"We've been pleasantly surprised and happy with the amount of vaccine we’ve received and the options we're able to offer to our communities to get vaccinated," Passaretti said.

In Mecklenburg County, new appointments opened Wednesday at 8:30 a.m. with availability as early as next week. Going forward, the county will open weekly appointments.

To book an appointment through Mecklenburg County, call the county’s vaccine hotline at 980-314-9400 or visit the county health department’s website. Appointments are also available through hospital providers, grocery stores like Harris Teeter and Publix, and pharmacies like CVS and Walgreens.

RELATED: VaccineFinder: New tool aims to show where COVID-19 shots are available

Have a relative or friend in another state and want to know when they can get vaccinated? Visit NBC News' Plan Your Vaccine site to find out about each state's vaccine rollout plan.