Raleigh, NC – – The North Carolina Community Health Center Association (NCCHCA) recognizes and applauds the critical role of its member community health centers (CHCs) in the state’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic and, as such, supports their efforts to protect CHC staff and the communities they serve through vaccination against the disease caused by the COVID-19 virus.
Vaccination against COVID-19 has been proven to dramatically reduce the risk of severe illness, hospitalization or death from the virus. Since January of this year, North Carolina’s CHCs have been key partners in delivering vaccines both to their patients, many of who represent vulnerable, underserved populations, and to their communities as a whole. NC CHCs have delivered over a quarter of a million vaccines to date. Clinical data has shown the COVID-19 vaccines to be extraordinarily safe and effective, and the best tool to end the pandemic. With the FDA’s full approval of the Pfizer vaccine on Monday, August 23, consumers can be even more confident about the efficacy and safety of the vaccine.
NCCHCA supports member CHC policies that encourage all employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19, and regularly test those not yet vaccinated, but also acknowledges that each CHC is unique and each organization maintains the autonomy to evaluate and determine the appropriate strategy for ensuring the safety and health of their staff and patients. Additionally, NCCHCA also supports CHCs’ efforts to provide easily accessible, free vaccines to all in their community who desire them, and to be a trusted partner in educating community members on the importance of COVID-19 vaccination.
“Our job at NCCHCA is to act as a support system for our member community health centers and provide them with tools and resources so they can carry out their missions,” stated Chris Shank, CEO and President of NCCHCA. Shank continued, “Through continuous discussions, we are working with our members to aid them in developing vaccine strategies tailored to their individual staff and patient circumstance. Some of our members, along with the NCCHCA, have mandated staff COVID-19 vaccinations and testing requirements for unvaccinated staff while other members are continuing to evaluate their future plans. I am incredibly proud of the way our members have responded to the pandemic and continue to take actions that are in the best interest of their communities.”
Reuben Blackwell, chair of the NCCHCA board and chief executive officer of OIC of Rocky Mount, a NCCHCA CHC member added, “I am deeply worried about the effects of the virus that results from COVID-19 on North Carolina’s most vulnerable folks who also happen to be Community Health Center patients and staff. I hope that, like I did, staff will protect themselves as well as their communities by getting this safe, effective, and free vaccine to protect against this virus.”