BOONE — Appalachian Regional Healthcare System (ARHS) held its first COVID-19 vaccine clinic on Jan. 11 for their patients who qualify according to the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) four-phase rollout plan. North Carolina is currently in phase 1b, group 1, which includes all adults 75 years or older.

ARHS receives periodic allotments of vaccines from the state during each phase, and will focus efforts on established patients of Appalachian Regional Medical Associates (ARMA) as they receive supplies. Those who are eligible, but are not established ARMA patients can attend vaccination clinics through Appalachian District Health Department (AppHealthCare) or Toe River (Avery County) Health Department.

“Right now, we’re asking those younger than 75 years of age not to sign up for a vaccine clinic meant for older folks,” said Chuck Mantooth, president and CEO of ARHS. “It’s so important that we vaccinate the most vulnerable among us first, and the state of North Carolina has made it clear that anyone who wants a vaccine will eventually be able to get one.”

Phase 1b includes the following groups:

  • Group 1: Anyone 75 years or older, regardless of health status or living situation
  • Group 2: Health care workers and frontline essential workers 50 years or older
  • Group 3: Health care workers and frontline essential workers of any age

The CDC defines frontline essential workers as first responders (e.g., firefighters and police officers), corrections officers, food and agricultural workers, U.S. Postal Service workers, manufacturing workers, grocery store workers, public transit workers, and those who work in the education sector (teachers and support staff members) as well as child care workers.

Michele McCubbins brought her parents, Paul and Carol to the first vaccine clinic at AppFamily Medicine in Boone.

“I am just so excited for the opportunity to protect my parents with this vaccine,” she said.

ARHS staff members and providers are volunteering to participate in vaccination efforts. Steven Anderson, MD, orthopedic surgeon at AppOrtho, vaccinated Katie Lineback, whose husband had undergone knee surgery with him previously. She was delighted to see a familiar face.

ARHS is working to contact ARMA patients by text or email when they are eligible for vaccine clinics. Established patients should visit https://apprhs.org/vaccine-registration/ to register.

Non-ARHS patients should sign up through local health department interest forms:

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