North Carolina Governor Highlights Wilmington Independent Pharmacy, Promotes Vaccines

While visiting Kings Pharmacy, Governor Roy Cooper speaks with owner Roy “Buck” Martin and an employee. (Port City Daily/Alexandria Sands Williams)

WILMINGTON — A small independent pharmacy on the corner of South College Road was visited by an entourage of politicians and health officials on Thursday.

Behind the counters at Kings Pharmacy, staff continued to answer ringing phones and fulfill orders through the drive-thru window as Governor Roy Cooper entered the room alongside the Health and Human Services Secretary of NC, Kody Kinsley.

Surrounded by shelves full of N95 masks, over-the-counter drugs and bandages, officials shook hands with local pharmacists and thanked them for their work in getting Covid-19 vaccines into the arms of their customers. The company dispersed about 2,000 Covid-19 vaccinations in more than six months.

“Congratulations on such a successful business. I know how hard it is for independent pharmacists,” Cooper told owner Roy “Buck” Martin after walking through the double doors of the store.

“It certainly has its struggles and challenges, but we’re making the most of it and just trying to be here for the community,” Martin replied.

“At a time when they really need it,” Cooper said.

The governor toured the pharmacy, which has served the community for three decades. Martin showed Cooper the “vaccine prep area” and the room where people get their shots.

The owners told Cooper that many customers had come to get their shots by word of mouth, from neighbors telling each other to go to Kings Pharmacy for a Covid-19 shot. He said most customers who come in for a shot already know they want it, but he often needs to offer peace of mind to the common question: “Will I feel bad afterwards? ?”

Governor Roy Cooper thanks the Martins for their work in dispersing Covid-19 vaccines. (Port City Daily/Alexandria Sands Williams)

Later in his remarks, Cooper said research shows some people aren’t necessarily opposed to getting the Covid-19 vaccine, but just haven’t made the decision.

“This is where trusted people in communities like pharmacists can make a difference, when they engage with people they engage with anyway. — regular customers who come in for their regular medical treatment and prescriptions,” Cooper said. “That conversation may be happening to try to convince them that the Covid vaccine and a booster is the right thing to do.”

Colorful lollipops on the table in the vaccine room caught the attention of Rep. Deb Butler, who asked if the owners of the business were seeing more children being vaccinated.

“We expected a lot more child turnout,” Martin said, “but we didn’t see as many as we thought.”

In North Carolina, 25% of children ages 5 to 11 have been vaccinated in the three months since becoming eligible.

Vaccination rates increase with the age of the generation. The senior population, over 75, is about 96% vaccinated as of Thursday. Cooper suggested it’s a sign that they know “getting vaccinated is the best way to protect them.” He says he wants to increase the statistics among young people to protect students and keep them in the classroom. He added that a “properly fitted” mask makes a difference in reducing the spread of the virus in schools.

Governor Roy Cooper gives a short speech inside Kings Pharmacy. (Port City Daily/Alexandria Sands Williams)

In remarks following the tour, Cooper said he wanted to highlight the good work that pharmacies are doing across the state.

“An independent pharmacy like this that has built trust with customers can make a real difference when people are trying to make vaccine decisions,” Cooper said.

A native of Wilmington, Kinsley took office last month to succeed outgoing health department chief Mandy Cohen. He said he learned earlier today that his mother had received her booster shot at Kings Pharmacy.

“Our pharmacies have been key and essential partners in ensuring vaccines are easy and everywhere,” Kinsley said. “And as we have worked hard to try to increase our vaccination rates in our state, it is thanks to the pharmacists, along with all of our other providers, who have come together to ensure that their local communities are vaccinated. .”

Wilmington native Health and Human Services Secretary Kody Kinsley said his mother got vaccinated at Kings Pharmacy. (Port City Daily/Alexandria Sands Williams)

Kinsley stressed that vaccinations are the most important action one can take to fight Covid-19, along with wearing a “well-fitting mask”. The governor noted that the number of cases and hospitalizations in the state were trending down.

“It’s good, but it’s still very high,” Cooper said. “And one thing we do know is that you’re much more likely to get sick, hospitalized, go to intensive care and even die if you haven’t been vaccinated and boosted. The science is overwhelming. And the good thing about it is that we have safe, effective, and free vaccines that you can get at many places in our state. And we still have a number of people who haven’t received it.

A quarter of North Carolina’s adult population did not receive the first injection of the vaccine. In New Hanover County, 66% of the population is vaccinated with at least one dose, below the statewide percentage.

Butler pointed out that more than 320 New Hanover County residents “did not survive this pandemic.” She said the vaccine could have saved some of them.

“I know the political divide that has challenged us all,” Butler said, “but please don’t be one of those people who has this outsized regret if something unthinkable happens and you were to catch the disease or a family member and suffer terribly from it. It’s unpredictable.”

Butler, Wilmington Mayor Bill Saffo and New Hanover County Commissioner Rob Zapple thanked the governor for his scientific approach to leadership throughout the past two difficult years. Zapple shouted at the county’s pandemic operations department, which distributes free vaccines and boosters. He thanked Kings Pharmacy, all other independent pharmacies, as well as Walgreens and CVS sites that provided vaccines.

“By God, look what is happening. We are finally seeing a drop in those numbers here. We’re not far off the hook yet,” Zapple said. “But now is not the time to take your foot off the accelerator. Please encourage people to come out and get the shot or the booster shot. It’s the best way for all of us to get by. »

Governor Cooper was also in the region to discuss offshore wind, which he says will boost the economy and help the environment. Brunswick County and several of its municipalities have passed resolutions opposing offshore wind turbines. Earlier in the day, Cooper attended the inaugural meeting of the NC Working Group for Offshore Wind Economic Resource Strategies.

Kings Pharmacy offers walk-in vaccines Monday through Friday between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. No appointment is necessary.

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