The Warren County Health Department has announced that people age 75 and older may now make appointments to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.

Vaccines for people in that age group are expected to be administered beginning next week. In order to make an appointment, call the health department at 252-257-1185.

County Health Director Dr. Margaret Brake said that people will go to the health department, located at 544 W. Ridgeway St., Warrenton, at the time of their appointment. After going inside, they will be asked to complete a standard state-required form and wait for their name to be called.

Brake said that the health department chose to administer vaccines by appointment in order to avoid having people wait in long lines outside.

Currently, COVID-19 vaccines are being administered to healthcare workers, and to residents and staff members at long-term care facilities.

Vaccinating people age 75 and older is part of Phase 1b of the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services’ plan for administering the COVID-19 vaccine, with priority given to people most at risk for the virus.

The following phases will be observed for administering the vaccine to other North Carolinians:

Phase 1b continued:

• Group 2: Healthcare workers and frontline essential workers 50 years or older: first responders such as firefighters and police officers, corrections officers, food and agricultural workers, U.S. Postal Service workers, manufacturing workers, grocery store workers, public transit workers, and those who work in the education sector (teachers and support staff members) as well as child care workers

• Group 3: Healthcare workers and frontline essential workers of any age

Phase 2. Adults at high risk for exposure and at increased risk of severe illness. Vaccinations will happen by group in the following order:

• Group 1: Anyone 65-74 years old, regardless of health status or living situation

• Group 2: Anyone 16-64 years old with high-risk medical conditions that increase risk of severe disease from COVID-19 (such as cancer, COPD, serious heart conditions, sickle cell disease, Type 2 diabetes) regardless of living situation

• Group 3: Anyone who is incarcerated or living in other close group living settings who is not already vaccinated due to age, medical condition or job function

• Group 4: Essential workers not yet vaccinated: workers in transportation and logistics, water and wastewater, food service, shelter and housing  (such as construction), finance (such as bank tellers), information technology and communications, energy, legal, media, and public safety (such as engineers) and public health workers.

Phase 3. Students: Includes college and university students; and K-12 students age 16 and over. Younger children will only be vaccinated when the vaccine is approved for them.

Phase 4. Everyone else who wants a COVID-19 vaccination.

According to state health officials, the COVID-19 vaccination will be available free of charge for everyone, whether or not they have health insurance.

After someone receives a first dose, he or she will need to receive a second dose of the vaccine in three to four weeks. Those receiving vaccinations will receive a printed card and email reminder of when to get the second dose.

Warren County and state health officials continue to urge the public to practice the 3 Ws: wear a mask, wait 6 feet apart and wash your hands.