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Mecklenburg County health director says vaccine hesitancy could be a roadblock for lifting COVID-19 restrictions

Health Director Gibbie Harris says while stable numbers are good, there is doubt we will reach the desired 2/3rds vaccination rate by summer

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Mecklenburg County Public Health Director Gibbie Harris says the latest COVID-19 metrics are stable in the community, but they're not exactly where she'd like them to be as North Carolina turns the corner into summer.

Harris is provided updates in a Thursday afternoon briefing, a day after North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper announced more COVID-19 restrictions would be lifted as the summer season neared. In previous updates, Harris and county Medical Director Dr. Meg Sullivan expressed concerns about plateauing rates of vaccination, but both were optimistic with the approval to restart the use of the single Johnson & Johnson vaccine. They also previously announced a shift from mass vaccination events to more walk-up events as vaccine supply outpaced demand.

However, Harris was frank in her update: demand for shots along with urgency has waned, which could delay the lifting of the current statewide mask mandate. As of Thursday, 49% of North Carolinian adults have been partially vaccinated, with 40% fully vaccinated. The overall goal is to get 23rds of all adults fully vaccinated by June 1, but Harris said that may not happen until later in the summer. She also addressed vaccine hesitancy in the community.

"There's multiple reasons for that, that include the fact that we do have some individuals in our community that are not willing to be vaccinated," she said. "We do have folks who are still hesitant."

She says her department is working on outreach efforts to get more shots into arms, along with getting approval for the Pfizer-BioNTech shot into the arms of kids aged 12-15 years old.

"We've got an increased focus on our younger populations and we're going to places where we can reach them more easily," she said. "We've got continued focused on those historically marginalized populations and those most affected by COVID."

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.