Atrium Health Administers COVID-19 Vaccine in Rural Communities

01.11.2021 Atrium Health News

Community members to receive vaccinations at Atrium Health Cabarrus, Atrium Health Lincoln and Atrium Health Union

CHARLOTTE, N.C., Jan. 11, 2021 – Tens of thousands of residents in rural North Carolina now have access to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, close to home. On Monday, three more Atrium Health facilities began offering the vaccine to members of the general public: Atrium Health Cabarrus, Atrium Health Lincoln, and Atrium Health Union. This is part of Atrium Health’s plans to offer mass vaccinations to people across the region in multiple, convenient locations as soon as possible.  

Atrium Health vaccine drive-thru

The expansion of vaccination availability across the region comes as North Carolina moved from Phase 1a to Phase 1b, Group 1, of its vaccine priority distribution plan that launched on Jan. 6, which permits anyone who is at least 75 years of age to be vaccinated.  Atrium Health became the one of the first health systems in the region to provide mass vaccinations beginning last Wednesday, in keeping with guidance from the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices.

Tens of thousands of people signed up for their opportunity to be vaccinated when Atrium Health began accepting appointments early last week. Appointments are available via a MyAtriumHealth account. Invitations were sent to approximately 164,000 Atrium Health patients who are at least 75 years old to make them aware of the opportunity. Vaccination appointments are required due to current vaccine supply and storage requirements of the Pfizer-manufactured vaccine.

“Making this vaccine available for communities in Cabarrus, Lincoln and Union counties is essential to slowing the spread of COVID-19 and ultimately defeating this virus,” said Denise White, vice president, facility executive and chief nursing executive at Atrium Health Union. “We’re working to ensure the distribution of the vaccine is as convenient as possible for our patients and community members, and that there is additional access close to home for everyone.”

Getting a COVID-19 vaccine can help protect individuals, as it creates an antibody response in the body without having to become sick with the virus. If enough people get vaccinated, a large part of the population of an area will be immune to COVID-19, called “herd immunity.” Herd immunity makes it possible to protect the population from a disease, including those who can't be vaccinated, such as those with compromised immune systems, children and newborns. Experts say that more than 70% of the population will have to be vaccinated to reach herd immunity.

“Making this vaccine available to the many diverse communities that Atrium Health serves is top of mind as we navigate the distribution process,” said Asha Rodriguez, vice president and facility executive at Atrium Health Cabarrus. “Expanding the availability of these vaccinations to our surrounding communities is a testament to our dedication to the communities we serve across the Southeast region, and to our commitment to providing health, hope and healing for all.”

As Atrium Health continues to administer the vaccine to frontline healthcare workers and qualified community members, the ability to offer it closer to home for the public in Cabarrus, Lincoln and Union counties is a welcome opportunity to help slow the spread of COVID-19 and maintain the appropriate capacity at each of the Atrium Health facilities.

In the four weeks since the first COVID-19 vaccines were given to Atrium Health teammates, more than 13,000 teammates in the Charlotte region have received their initial dose, and many healthcare workers have already received their second and final dose to be fully inoculated.

“We know community members are eager to be vaccinated as soon as possible and our teams have worked tirelessly to ensure we are able to distribute this life-saving vaccine in a timely manner,” said Teresa Watson, vice president and facility executive at Atrium Health Lincoln. “The sooner we are able to vaccinate our community members across the region, the sooner we will be to seeing a potential end of this pandemic.”

Currently, two vaccines are FDA-approved to prevent COVID-19, the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine and the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine. Atrium Health was the first health system in the state to vaccinate a diverse group of its teammates with the Pfizer vaccine, and among the first in the Southeast region to receive the first doses of the Moderna vaccine.

Last week, Atrium Health announced the launch of a phase 3 COVID-19 investigational vaccine clinical trial to test the safety and effectiveness of NVX-CoV2373, developed by U.S. company Novavax, Inc., a late-stage biotechnology company developing next-generation vaccines for serious infectious diseases. Atrium Health will enroll 250 people on the trial, giving them the potential to be protected from COVID-19 before they are eligible to receive one of the approved COVID-19 vaccines.

As a nationally recognized leader in shaping health outcomes through innovative research, education and compassionate patient care at hundreds of care locations throughout the Carolinas and Georgia, Atrium Health is bringing the most advanced therapies to patients in a way that is convenient for them and anticipates treatment trials it's running will guide physicians closer to identifying additional safe and effective treatments. To date, Atrium Health has conducted 10 clinical trials to fight the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Atrium Health also opened a voluntary vaccine research registry, which allows people to learn more about vaccine research and development. People who take part in the registry may be invited to participate in COVID-19 vaccine trials in the future and will be provided with convenient access to trials, should they be interested. Participating in clinical trials is a way for people to receive potentially lifesaving medications before they become FDA-available. Clinical trials are crucial for advancing research and bringing new vaccines to the general public safely. 

For more information about Atrium Health’s COVID-19 research registry, call 833-451-1188, visit AtriumHealth.org/COVIDVACCINE or email STRIVEVaccineRegistry@atriumhealth.org. 

QUICK FACTS:

  • Atrium Health began mass public vaccinations of those 75 years old and older at Atrium Health Cabarrus, Atrium Health Lincoln and Atrium Health Union at 8:30 m., on Monday, Jan. 11.
  • Atrium Health began mass public vaccinations of those 75 years old and older, as part of North Carolina’s Phase 1b, Group 1, at 7 a.m., on Wednesday, Jan. 6.
  • More than 180,000 current patients and teammates who qualify for the vaccinations have already received communication from Atrium Health with details about scheduling their vaccination appointment.
  • Those age 75 years old and older can easily schedule their vaccination appointment through an existing MyAtriumHealth account.
  • Vaccination appointments are required due to current vaccine supply and storage requirements of the Pfizer-manufactured vaccine.
  • The first COVID-19 vaccines were given to Atrium Health teammates serving on the frontlines on Monday, Dec. 14.
  • In just four weeks, more than 13,000 Atrium Health teammates in the Charlotte region have received their initial dose, and many have received their second and final dose to be fully inoculated.
  • More information about Atrium Health’s vaccination plans for the public, including FAQs, can be found at AtriumHealth.org/COVID19Vaccine

About Atrium Health

Atrium Health is a nationally recognized leader in shaping health outcomes through innovative research, education and compassionate patient care. Atrium Health is an integrated, nonprofit health system with more than 70,000 teammates serving patients at 42 hospitals and more than 1,500 care locations. It provides care under the Wake Forest Baptist Health name in the Winston-Salem, North Carolina, region and Atrium Health Navicent in Georgia. Atrium Health is renowned for its top-ranked pediatric, cancer and heart care, as well as organ transplants, burn treatments and specialized musculoskeletal programs. A recognized leader in experiential medical education and groundbreaking research, Wake Forest School of Medicine is the academic core of the enterprise, including Wake Forest Innovations, which is advancing new medical technologies and biomedical discoveries. Atrium Health is also a leading-edge innovator in virtual care and mobile medicine, providing care close to home and in the home. Ranked among U.S. News & World Report’s Best Hospitals for cancer treatment and in eight pediatric specialties, Atrium Health has also received the American Hospital Association’s Quest for Quality Prize and was the recipient of the 2020 Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Health Equity Award for its efforts to reduce racial and ethnic disparities in care. With a commitment to every community it serves, Atrium Health seeks to improve health, elevate hope and advance healing – for all, providing more than $2 billion per year in free and uncompensated care and other community benefits.