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Mecklenburg County leaders ramping up vaccine outreach efforts

Public health workers will be knocking on doors and offering vaccines on the spot.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The COVID-19 vaccine could be coming right to your doorstep. Literally.

The Mecklenburg County Health Department is launching a new "doses to doors" program, where public health workers will team up with community outreach organizations already knocking on doors to educate people on the COVID-19 vaccines. Now, they'll be offering COVID-19 vaccinations on the spot. 

It's part of an urgent push to make getting vaccinated easy.

"When you look at the percent of our community who is vaccinated, it is not as high as it needs to be. We just know that we need to have those innovative ways," Dr. Meg Sullivan, Medical Director for the Mecklenburg County Health Department said.

Action NC and other community outreach groups have been canvassing neighborhoods with lower vaccination rates to give people information on the shots and where to get them.

"Those individual conversations through partnerships such as Action NC have really been vital to really increasing vaccine uptake," Sullivan said.

The Mecklenburg County Health Department is taking it a step further with the "doses to doors" program. Public health staff will go along, ready to give shots on demand if someone wants one.

"We're launching a 'doses to doors' program, where our staff will actually be going out with the canvassers with vaccine in hand," Mecklenburg County Health Director Gibbie Harris said. "If we find someone through the canvassers that wants to be vaccinated, we can do it on the spot."

It's in line with the federal government's strategy to get more of the country protected.

"We'll go to you. If you want to get vaccinated, we'll go to you," Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra said on Wednesday when he visited Charlotte.

This program will primarily focus on hesitant communities and those disproportionately impacted by COVID-19 but the top priority is still to listen to people's concerns and share the facts. Then when they're ready, make it even simpler to get vaccinated.

"We still know that we have access issues, people that work long hours or that may have transportation issues or language barriers that prevent them from getting the vaccine," Sullivan said. "And that is the role of public health and our vaccine partners and community partners to go and really remove those barriers."

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The health department says it will also continue giving out $25 cash cards at clinics to encourage vaccinations.

RELATED: VERIFY: Claims that vaccinated people are more likely to die from Delta are misleading

During a visit to Charlotte Wednesday, Gov. Roy Cooper said the state's vaccination rate is lower than they'd like it to be, as health officials from the federal government have similar plans for boosting confidence in the vaccines. 

“We're laser-focused on getting as many people vaccinated as possible because that we know is the one fix for all of this,” Cooper said.

RELATED: Symptoms for the delta variant are different from 'classic' COVID-19 symptoms. Here's what you need to know.

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