Iredell Health System Vaccinates Over 2,600 Individuals For COVID-19, Plans For More

STATESVILLE, N.C. — Officials with Iredell Health System say they have officially vaccinated over 2,600 individuals and plan to hold COVID-19 vaccine clinics multiple days a week to provide as many residents with the vaccine as possible.

“We are working with local healthcare entities, community groups, corporations and many others within the communities we serve to help identify eligible individuals to invite to be vaccinated and to do so equitably,” said John Green, President & CEO of Iredell Health System, adding that those individuals have been or will be contacted by Health System representatives with instructions on how to schedule a vaccine appointment. “While this is a challenging time for healthcare, we are happy to be a part of such a momentous effort to help stop this pandemic.”

Officials say an additional 1,300 individuals have appointments to be vaccinated just this week, and Iredell Health System is only providing the vaccine to individuals in group 1 (Phase 1A & Phase 1B) at this point.

Health care officials say due to how the Pfizer vaccine is stored, the Health System will keep its policy of vaccinating by appointment or invitation only.

“We are the only organization in Iredell County with the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine, which is given in two doses, approximately 21 days apart. The Pfizer vaccine requires ultra-cold storage and special handling to prepare, including allowing time for the vaccine to thaw before it is administered. It’s very important to us that we do not waste any of the vaccine we have been given,” said Larry Pizzorni, Assistant Vice President of Ancillary and Support Services for Iredell Health System, who is overseeing the organization’s vaccine workgroup responsible for running its vaccine clinics. “We have been working tirelessly to plan and run these clinics, and we are happy to say that the process we have in place is working well.”

Attendees at the last coronavirus clinics on Saturday, January 9th compare how easy it is to get vaccinated to the success of Chick-Fil-A drive-throughs including two retired businessmen, Mason McCullough and William Jones Jr., according to a news release.

McCullough, a retired newspaper editor, says getting the vaccine was more important to him than any line he would have to wait in.

“I know people that I know very well who have had COVID and passed away from it. I wanted to make sure that if there was anything I could do, I’d do it,” he said, adding that he initially was hesitant about getting the vaccine and planned to wait until much later. He changed his mind after speaking with a friend who is a nurse practitioner, and watching other healthcare workers jump at the chance to be vaccinated. “I looked around and I saw a lot of people being affected by COVID, and I had to reason within myself: ‘If the initial people getting the shots are healthcare workers, if the people taking care of me if I get sick are getting it, why should I be worried?’ I knew I needed to do this.”

Jones, a former postmaster general for Statesville, says both he and his wife have been vaccinated, and encourages others to get their vaccine too when it becomes their time.

“I think it’s a good idea [to be vaccinated] because of the effects this virus has had on our community and our world as a whole,” William Jones said. “If this is healing, then I’m willing to participate.”

“It’s a way to keep us more safe,” Inola Jones said. “I recommend it highly to everybody, for everybody.”

McCullough urged vulnerable community members, who have been particularly affected by COVID-19, to take the vaccine.

“I do want to encourage the African American community to take the vaccine when it’s available. With the history of our country, many African Americans are saying ‘I’m not going to be a guinea pig.’ But I’m saying, ‘it’s important for African Americans to take the vaccine when made available.”