Wake County Encourages COVID-19 Safety and Boosters to Help Prevent Holiday Surge

COVID-19 isn’t taking a break for the holidays, so Wake County Public Health is reminding residents to think about health and safety as they plan events with family and friends.

“We’ve started to see the number of new cases rise again, so we’re encouraging residents to be mindful and take precautions while traveling, shopping or attending gatherings,” said Associate Medical Director & Epidemiology Program Director Dr. Nicole Mushonga. “If we want to avoid January 2022 looking like last winter, then it is a combination of getting your vaccine or booster, wearing a mask and getting tested.”  

Get Tested

Getting tested before and after gatherings or travel is an important precaution residents can take to prevent spreading the virus.

Wake County Public Health offers drive-thru COVID-19 testing six days a week at five locations throughout the county. Testing is by appointment only, but there are thousands of appointments available daily. An additional 2,000 appointments daily have been added to help accommodate holiday testing, bringing the total number of tests to 7,000 per day. Staff monitor appointment availability daily to make any additional changes necessary.  

Wake County Public Health testing sites are open every day this week excluding Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Our sites are back open 12 hours a day Monday through Thursday leading up to New Year’s.

In addition to Wake County testing sites, several community partners offer fast, convenient COVID-19 testing. To find a testing site near you, go to Find My Testing Place | NC COVID-19.

Free, at-home COVID-19 tests are also available. The kit is sent via FedEx overnight shipping with results usually within 1–2 days after the sample arrives at the lab. Residents are encouraged to order now so they can have the tests in hand for needed travel or gatherings.

Get Your Booster or Vaccine

With top health officials warning that the omicron variant is likely to cause record-high coronavirus cases and hospitalizations in the coming weeks, it’s more important than ever to get vaccinated or get boosted. Booster shots are available for anyone 16 or older if six months have passed since your second Moderna or Pfizer dose or more than two months have passed since a Johnson & Johnson dose.

In Wake County, approximately 70% of people are fully vaccinated but, as of last week, less than 40% have received their booster.

Vaccines and boosters are available at five Wake County Public Health vaccination locations throughout the county open six days a week, including weekends and evening hours. There are dozens of vaccine providers in addition to Wake County Public Health if times and locations are not convenient for schedules.

Wear a Mask

Masks are still one of the most important things to protect ourselves against coronavirus. With the extremely high transmissibility of omicron and delta, everyone, regardless of vaccination status, should be wearing a mask while indoors

Those hosting or attending holiday gatherings should be mindful of the increased risks and anyone who is feeling sick should remain home. Washing your hands frequently and using hand sanitizer is also recommended.

Get a Flu Shot

COVID-19 isn’t the only respiratory virus circulating during the winter months. With the first North Carolina flu-related death for the 2021-2022 flu season reported earlier this month, it’s now is the time to get your flu shot if you haven’t already.

Flu vaccines are available in nearly every pharmacy, doctor’s office, health department and some schools and universities.

Most of these locations will offer flu shots and COVID-19 vaccines or boosters. According to the CDC, a COVID-19 vaccine and other vaccines can be administered without regard to timing. It’s not only safe, but also an added convenience for some to receive both shots at the same time.

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