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Belhaven administers first doses of COVID-19 vaccine

BELHAVEN – The Town of Belhaven, in partnership with O’Neals Drug Store, held a COVID-19 vaccine clinic Wednesday to administer the first 200 doses the town has received.

“We’re excited to get these vaccines in people’s arms because it’s going to make a world of difference once people are vaccinated,” said Neal O’Neal of O’Neals Drug Store. “We’re getting ready to see a ton of vaccines and a lot of vaccinations and when we get these things in people’s arms, it should make a huge difference.”

These doses are the first to be distributed to Belhaven for administration. Mayor Ricky Credle learned doses of the Moderna vaccine would be available to Belhaven on Feb. 4, following a meeting with County Manager Brian Alligood.

“The stars aligned just right. The outpouring of support has been off the charts. People are excited,” Credle said. “This area is just hard, and when you get into underserved communities, people might not have the means to travel.”

Planning for the vaccination clinic was a four-month process, O’Neal said. The town kept an open line of communication between county and state officials to ensure Belhaven residents were able to get vaccines in a more accessible location.

“This is a two-shot vaccine. We’ve been promised the other 200 doses so what we’re doing is telling people that we will call them to set up their second appointment around that 28th day,” O’Neal said. “To get the full benefit of the vaccine, you have to get the second dose. the great thing about it is that once you get your first vaccine, your body is already starting to recognize the virus and making antibodies to fight it.”

Belhaven hopes to keep receiving and administering as many doses as possible, Credle said.

“The latest update I got, as of last night, the (COVID-19 metrics) are going down. In North Carolina, the hospitalizations are going down so were starting to see good numbers,” Credle said.  “It’s trending the right way. A lot of it is that vaccines are starting to get in people’s arms and doing what they’re supposed to do.”

The vaccine clinic took place Wednesday and will continue on Thursday at the former Wells Fargo building on Main Street. Chairs are spaced six feet apart in the lobby, and vaccines are being administered in the offices at the rear of the building.

“We’re being as safe as we can. We’ve got a great group of volunteers from the county and we have a National Guardsman. He’s a big help, he’s done this a number of times and the paperwork he’s doing for us is a big help,” O’Neal said.

Vaccine distribution in North Carolina is currently in stage two, which means individuals ages 65 and older, frontline healthcare workers and workers and residents in long-term care facilities can receive the vaccine.

“I’ve had people ask me when I’m planning to get it. Right now, I’m focused on the elderly and those that qualify. It’s all about them and I want to make sure they’re safe,” said Credle.

For more information or to set up a vaccine appointment, contact the Belhaven location of O’Neals Drug Store at 252-943-2643.

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