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Vaccination Barriers Continue For Some As NC Health Officials Extend Incentives

Government health officials are recommending a "pause" in vaccinations with the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine.
Stephen Zenner
Getty Images
Government health officials are recommending a "pause" in vaccinations with the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine.

The number of COVID-19 vaccinations administered in North Carolina each week has been on a fairly steady decline since April.

Just 45% of the total population has received at least one shot, including 55% of North Carolina adults. That's far off President Joe Biden's target of 70% of adults by July 4.

The slump is part of a national trend and that is partially because of barriers for individuals who want to be vaccinated, according to North Carolina Deputy Health Secretary Kody Kinsley.

"It's a lot of things that may sound small in sum, but are truly big to the people for whom it matters, because that's what's getting between them and getting vaccinated," Kinsley said.

Some of those barriers include transportation, childcare, and getting paid time off of work to get the shot, according to Kinsley. With the spread of a new, more contagious strain of COVID-19, it's all the more important that state and local government efforts address those needs, he said.

"We're just now in this moment where we're past the kind of vaccine, drop everybody run to the place to get the vaccine, and now we're in this group where people have complex lives," he said.

To help with vaccination efforts, the state Health Department will begin offering $25 cash cards at more COVID-19 vaccination sites this week. The cash cards are meant to offset the time and transportation expense for getting vaccinated. Adults getting their first shot or giving someone else a ride are eligible. The program launched in May in four counties and now has expanded to 40 counties. State health officials say surveys at pilot locations show the cash card incentive is effective.

The state is also incentivizing vaccinations with a lottery. The first $1 million drawing is Wednesday.

Correction: This story has been updated to clarify the North Carolina vaccination rates and President Biden's July 4th target.

Copyright 2021 North Carolina Public Radio

Amy is the incoming Daily News Editor at WUNC in Chapel Hill where she manages day-to-day coverage of everything from gerrymandering to rogue emus.