KITTY HAWK, N.C. — In just a couple of months, people all across the country flock to North Carolina’s Outer Banks for its beautiful beaches every summer.
For health officials, the upcoming tourist season is quickly approaching as they work to get people in the Tar Heel state vaccinated.
On Friday, North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper got a look at vaccination efforts during a tour at the Dare County Youth Center in Kitty Hawk. Shortly after, he held a press conference, where he urged those eligible to get vaccinated as soon as possible.
Cooper said the community needs protection to avoid another COVID-19 surge this summer.
“Vaccinating people is the way to turn the corner on this pandemic,” said Cooper.
He warned the state is still not out of the woods.
“There’s still a lot of virus here. We’re having around 2,000 positive tests a day. We have more than 1,000 people hospitalized with COVID-19 right now,” said Cooper.
During the press conference, Dr. Mandy Cohen, Secretary of the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services said Dare County is leading the way when it comes to vaccination efforts in the state.
In Dare County, 95 percent of people 65 and older are vaccinated. Nearly half of all adults in the county have received the vaccine, which is more than any other county in the state, according to Cohen.
“It’s good that Dare County is getting their population vaccinated because this is a county that relies on tourism for growth and survival,” said Cooper.
Statewide, NCDHHS is reporting more than 6.1 million doses of the vaccine have been administered as of Friday. In total 25.4% of the state’s population has received at least one dose of the vaccine, and more than 45% of the population 18 years old and above have been vaccinated with at least one dose.
Brian Fritsch, a resident of Dare County got his vaccine at the Dare County Youth Center. Fritsch chose to get his vaccine out of caution ahead of the tourist season. He interacts with around 600 tourists on any given day during his job.
“I had it (COVID-19) once right when it first started. It was bad... three weeks of body aches, fever, chills,” said Fritsch. “I lost a month of my life, I don’t wanna go through that again.”
Cooper said the state’s top priority right now is to distribute vaccines in a way that’s fast and fair.