How NHRMC Is Working to Provide the COVID Vaccine to All

February 15, 2021
Gail Eddie COVID vaccine

Older people and people of color are among those that have been hardest hit by COVID-19. But they’re also the ones who may struggle the most to get the vaccine.


NHRMC is working to change that using several different tactics, from talking to church groups about the vaccine to holding scheduling events in various communities, even going into patients’ homes if they can’t leave.


Dr. Philip Brown, NHRMC’s Chief Physician Executive, says a variety of outreach measures are vital to ensure that access to the vaccine is equitable.


“COVID-19 has disproportionately affected communities of color with disparate rates of infection and death across the country,” he said in a video message from the North Carolina Medical Society. “As we enter a phase of preventive vaccination with the power to eliminate this pandemic, we have to make sure that there is equitable access and at times preferential access to life-saving vaccines for those most adversely affected.”


A Lack of Access and Trust

Nationally, black people and Hispanic people have been more likely to die from COVID-19 than white people, according to the COVID Tracking Project. That’s because people in these groups are more likely to live in poverty and to lack healthcare access, according to the CDC. People of color are also more likely to hold jobs in essential work settings like healthcare facilities, grocery stores, or farms, putting them at a higher risk to contract the disease. 


Getting the COVID vaccine will provide protection against the virus. But even signing up for an appointment to receive the vaccine has proven difficult for older people, people with low socioeconomic status, and people of color. Signups are primarily done online, and people in these groups may be less likely to have a computer and/or a smartphone. Even if they can access the internet, 52 million Americans don’t know how to use it.


On top of that, many people of color don’t trust the healthcare system, said Dr. Tomi Farotimi, ambulatory care pharmacy resident, pointing to the Tuskegee Syphilis Study, which examined untreated syphilis in black men from the 1930s to 1970s. (The men were told they were receiving free health care, but their treatments were all placebos or ineffective methods.) Or they trust other entities in their community more, like their church leaders, said Kevin Briggs, Administrator of Laboratory and Respiratory Care Services.


How NHRMC Is Helping

NHRMC has developed a coordinated outreach effort across the system to reach people throughout New Hanover, Brunswick and Pender counties.


Briggs and his team are tackling both the access and trust issues using lessons learned from NHRMC’s Getting Healthy at the Barber initiative and the Faith Health Network.


Before scheduling vaccine appointments, Briggs and his team partnered with about 16 churches throughout Brunswick County to hold education sessions about the vaccine and answer congregants’ questions. After the community developed trust in the vaccine, NHRMC began scheduling appointments for them, holding in-person scheduling events or calling patients on the phone rather than asking them to sign up online.


It’s a grassroots effort – and it’s working, Briggs said. Almost 100 people showed up to one of the first events his team held in Navassa.


There are several other similar kinds of outreach to underserved groups taking place across NHRMC. Pharmacists like Farotimi and other providers have participated in many Facebook Live interviews to educate the community about the vaccine and answer questions.


Sarah Arthur, NHRMC Manager of Community Engagement, said NHRMC is working closely with the New Hanover County Health Department to ensure the two organizations are effectively coordinating to reach these groups.


Arthur is leading the community vaccine outreach to historically underserved and minority populations. She is working with leaders like Briggs to ensure that all areas and people are covered. For instance, the team is working with Dr. Mary Kathryn Rudyk and NHRMC Coastal Family Medicine, both of whom serve senior adults who can’t leave their homes, to bring vaccines directly to their doors.


Arthur’s team is also working closely with NHRMC’s employee resource groups to reach communities, such as NHRMC’s Todos Unidos group for Hispanic and Latino employees. In January, Todos Unidos directly contacted members of the Latino community by phone to help them schedule their vaccine appointments at The Pointe. NHRMC’s dedicated COVID phone line also has translators to help people who don’t speak English make an appointment.


Both Briggs and Arthur pointed out that outreach efforts will be continuing for some time as the state moves through the different phases of vaccine distribution.


“We want to make all of our efforts scalable,” Arthur said.


Briggs agreed, noting his goal is to try to stay one step ahead of the next phase and reach out to individuals in that group ahead of time.


“We’re doing a lot of different things to touch people and meet them where they are,” he said.


One Patient’s Experience

Gail Eddie received her first dose of the vaccine at a clinic held at Mt. Olive AME Church on Friday, Feb. 5.


She heard about the event from a friend and said she was impressed with the efficiency of the clinic.


“Everything was very organized,” she said, noting she didn’t have to wait long. “It was a good experience.”


The day after she received the first shot, she said her arm felt sore and she felt “a little wiped out,” but she was back to normal after a few days.


She said she would encourage anyone who was hesitant to receive the vaccine.


“It reminds me of the polio vaccine. I feel like it’s very necessary,” she said. “I think of all those childhood vaccines – measles, smallpox. I feel like this is one of those, but maybe more important.”


NHRMC announces when new appointments are available when we have additional supplies of vaccines. The status will be at


NHRMC has an email list available for anyone to sign up to receive notifications when COVID-19 vaccine appointments are available. To sign up, visit

Are there plans to open the COVID vaccine appointments to employee families?
I received my Pfizer first dose on 2/22 in Mecklenburg Co. I would like to schedule my second dose in Wilmington (where I live) around 3/15. Any suggestions on making an appointment? It has been very difficult getting information - even being told by NHC health dept that I have to go back to Mecklenburg Co.
How can I sign up for advance notice for vaccination or to set an appointment in future. My job requires 7 days advance notice even for Dr appointments. Your notification comes in that appointments are open but how do you secure one then it closes 30 or so minutes later
I'm 67 and am still working in public situations
Need appointment for vaccine for my 70 year old wife. 910-256-9235
910-256-9235 PCP not providing vaccine.
My elderly aunt is over 75 and needs the vaccine, has not been able to get anyone to help her locate where to go. Does not have access to technology please advise, contact me thru email. Thanks in advance
I am a 68 year old white female with autoimmune and other health issues. I am signed up for every local notification I can possibly sign up for. Still, before I can sign on for a slot or get a call to go through, they are filled. What is the secret for winning the slot lottery?
How do I schedule a vaccine for a shut-in?
I am a NHCS teacher at Hoggard. I am trying to use the site that NHRMC sent but it is blocked. Can you help me sign up for an appointment on Wed. Mar 3 for a vaccine please?
Thank you,
Jennifer Burdette
I have an autoimmune disease and need to get my vaccine at the hospital. I I hoping you will be using the old surgical pavilion soon to give the vaccines. I also need at least three days notice so I can begin my premedications predications
When will there be more appointments available for employees?
I have been on the wait list for an opening to get the 1st COVID 19 SHOT .My appointment isn't until April 19th. I have heard from other people who aren't Cancer survivors (High Grade Bladder Cancer & Stage 2 Breast Cancer), under the age of 65 getting called for an appointment. I will be 70 in 3 months......where is the call for my appointment? I check w/Novant My chart & Walgreens only to hear no appointment available.
I am waiting for the Johnson & Johnson vaccine to become available. Why have to get 2 shots when you can only get one?
67 years old unable to get appt.
Am 72. Have DM type2. Htn asthma hx of strokes. how do I make an appt or be it on wait list for vaccine?With my health record. Pfizser Or Moderna would be best. J+j is best suited for younger healthier people
I am scheduled for my second shot. Will I receive a proof of vaccination card? Proof is required for a lot of travel to other countries and airlines. Thanks.
My family had covid in December. My husband's pulmonologist says he can have the vaccine now. He is 75 and I am 66 and a nurse here at NHRMC. I am retiring the end of the month, so not sure about getting it here (I can't seem to find anyone to talk to ) and my husband has just been diagnosed with lung cancer and his doctor says it would be good for him to get it before surgery. How can we can sign up? Please help.
so when do you think, pray tell you will have an appt to get the vaccine???????
We are 72 and still can’t get an appointment for a vaccine. Have tried everywhere. We should have already gotten one in group 2 with 65 and older. If someone could let us know when we may be called for the vaccine.
I need a shot they say things are getting better have been trying for 3 weeks now something with the system.. I guess it's who you know & what you hear.....
Need to find out how to get the second phizer vaccine. Have the first one and due to unforeseen circumstances, I had to move from Va to NC. How can I get set up for the second one? I am 83 years old.
I am 63 years old with hypertension. Would like too schedule a appointment for the codvil-19 vaccine. Calling and going on different sites. Nothing available. Could you please schedule me a appointment. Thank you.
High risk: COPD & Afib
I am scheduled to have my second Phizer vaccine shot on 04/18/21. I have misplaced my card and was wondering if there would be a problem if I can't put my hands on it!
I have been trying to schedule my in-laws for the vaccine, however they want the Pfizer vaccine and it seems all that is available now is Johnson and Johnson. Do I have to just keep checking back on the availability of the Pfizer or can you notify me.

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