‘Initiative’ uses a visual clue to encourage Highlanders to get vaccinated

Vaccination figures are climbing but not fast or high enough.

Macon County is the leading region in Western North Carolina’s 19 counties with a vaccination rate of 39.3%. 

The Highlands Plateau which for vaccine purposes includes Sapphire, Lake Glenville, Cashiers, and Highlands is at 37%.

Good figures, but not enough to reach herd immunity, say authorities.

That’s the idea behind the Highlands-Cashiers Plateau Vaccine Initiative’s Community Immunity Thermometer erected in Founders Park Saturday afternoon.

The thermometer shows the percent of vaccines given through May which is at 37%. Robin King Austin with the Initiative is hoping the thermometer will inspire citizens of the Highlands Plateau to get vaccinated.

“I’m hoping to see it [mercury] get to 80%, but I am happy with any increase we can get no matter how small.”

The Initiative uses census track data from the state of North Carolina to get the numbers. This means the second-home owners from various states who got their vaccine here in Highlands aren’t counted in that tally. So obviously more people in Highlands’ midst are vaccinated.

Interesting, 58% of residents in the northern tract of the Highlands Plateau have gotten the vaccine.

Austin is asking people to write Governor Roy Cooper and ask him to offer a lottery to encourage people to get vaccinated. The idea is everyone who gets vaccinated gets a lottery ticket with the winner getting cash prizes. So far, California, Ohio, Maryland, Oregon, Colorado and New York are offering vaccine lotteries.

Businesses across the country are also in on the game offering free food, or drinks with proof of vaccination.

Austin says the reasons to get vaccinated are obvious: to protect yourself and others from death, long term effects of the virus, loss of ability to work; to protect your business from shut down, protect your employees and customers; to help America heal and reach herd immunity so the virus can’t spread; and to prevent the formation of nasty, more contagious variants of Covid. 

“We have a long way to go so we can’t give up,” said Austin.

To register for the vaccine call the H-C Plateau Covid Vaccine Initiative at 828.526.1310. 

Pictured at the top of the article is Robin King Austin of the Highlands-Cashiers Plateau Vaccine Initiative with a number of volunteers at K-H Founders Park’s new Community Immunity Thermometer. Photo by Kim Lewicki

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