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See the latest news and updates about COVID-19 and its impact on the Charlotte region, the Carolinas and beyond.

Booster shots account for the majority of recent COVID vaccines in Mecklenburg County

Steven Cornfield

At least 21,000 people in Mecklenburg County have received a booster shot for COVID-19 so far in October, according to the latest county numbers.

County health director Gibbie Harris said during a news conference Thursday that booster shots accounted for the majority — about 60% — of vaccines administered in the county between Oct. 7 and Oct. 20. The remaining 40% of vaccines given in the county during that time period were first or second doses, adding up to a total of roughly 35,000 vaccine doses.

“The main rush for the boosters, I think, is because they’re now available,” Harris said. “People who are concerned about waning antibodies and increased risk are coming in for those boosters. So it’s not terribly surprising.”

Mecklenburg County Public Health

This week, following the recommendations of federal health agencies, health care providers in Mecklenburg County began offering booster shots to people 18 and older who received the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine at least two months ago. Health care providers have also started administering booster doses of Pfizer or Moderna vaccines to people in certain groups, including those who are 65 and older, live in long-term care facilities or have certain underlying medical conditions.

Seventy-two percent of Mecklenburg County residents ages 12 and older were at least partially vaccinated as of Thursday, according to the state’s Department of Health and Human Services. But Harris said there has been a continued decrease in the number of people seeking their first shot.

“We had already seen some slowing in the number of people coming in for initial vaccines prior to boosters,” she said. “We’ve continued to see that lower level of folks coming in for first vaccines over time. As we got more and more people vaccinated, there were fewer and fewer people who were making the effort to come in for first vaccines.”

Harris said the county is simultaneously working to administer boosters and to encourage people to get vaccinated in the first place.

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Claire Donnelly is WFAE's health reporter. She previously worked at NPR member station KGOU in Oklahoma and also interned at WBEZ in Chicago and WAMU in Washington, D.C. She holds a master's degree in journalism from Northwestern University and attended college at the University of Virginia, where she majored in Comparative Literature and Spanish. Claire is originally from Richmond, Virginia. Reach her at cdonnelly@wfae.org or on Twitter @donnellyclairee.