Pitt County health director discusses spring wave of COVID-19, stance against vaccine passports


GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) — We are in a spring COVID-19 wave, according to Pitt County’s health director.

The percentage of tests coming back positive has increased to 7.8%, similar to data from this time last year. 

On Wednesday, at the health department’s latest COVID-19 briefing, Dr. John Silvernail said he would love to see more people get the coronavirus vaccine but like many health departments across the state, Pitt County is seeing a decline in demand. 

The CDC advisory committee of immunization practices and the FDA has lifted the Johnson & Johnson vaccine pause. Silvernail recognizes people still might be hesitant. The health department is strategizing on how it can meet the needs of the community with mobile vaccination efforts to reach more people. 

Silvernail said about 35% of Pitt County has either been infected with COVID-19 or vaccinated for the virus. When it comes to herd immunity, he would like to see that number at around 66% and encourages people to get their COVID-19 shots. 

The Pitt County health department wants people to know there are still free at-home COVID-19 test kits available. Silvernail said this project helps health experts see if routine testing reduces the spread of COVID-19 in our community.

Across the country there are discussions surrounding vaccine passports. Silvernail said he’s not a fan of them.

“From a civil liberty standpoint, I really, really have some concerns about this idea of vaccine passports,” he said Wednesday. “I don’t know that anybody should have to release their personal medical information to any third party from the standpoint of whether going into a restaurant, boarding an aircraft, things like that.”

He also said he has some concerns that vaccine passports could lead to an increase in fraud and identity theft. 

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