As COVID-19 cases continue to surge in the Twin Counties, UNC Health Care has begun offering COVID-19 vaccination appointments in the Rocky Mount area through Eastern North Carolina Medical Group.

Roughly 188 new cases of COVID-19 have been reported since Friday in Nash County, Nash County Health Director Bill Hill said Wednesday at a meeting of the Nash County COVID Response Team. The team did not meet on Monday because of the federal holiday.

As of Wednesday, Nash County had a cumulative total of 7,192 cases of COVID-19. County officials also reported four more deaths this week, though no details were provided. The COVID death toll in Nash County now is 134.

Hill said he is more worried about the number of hospitalizations of COVID patients at Nash UNC Health Care. As of Wednesday, there were 52 COVID patients in that facility, he said.

“The uptick in cases of COVID patients in the Intensive Care Unit is especially concerning,” Hill said. “As of Wednesday, eight of the 52 patients were in ICU and four of those were on ventilators.”

Though the Edgecombe County Health Department no longer is reporting any totals, the state Department of Health and Human Services indicates that 108 new cases of COVID have been reported in that county since Friday. The cumulative total of COVID cases in Edgecombe County now is 3,767.

In response to the growing number of cases, UNC Health Care is expanding its vaccination efforts. The most recently revised state DHHS guidelines have redefined the eligibility criteria to receive the COVID-19 vaccine to incorporate a larger percentage of the state’s population, the organization said in a press release issued Wednesday through Nash UNC Health Care.

Currently, health care workers with in-person patient contact; long-term care staff and residents of skilled nursing facilities, adult care homes and continuing care retirement communities; and anyone 65 years or older, regardless of health status or living situation, are eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine when it is available.

Eligible residents can schedule a COVID-19 vaccination by visiting and clicking on the “Get Vaccinated” link. Anyone experiencing issues scheduling online can call 984-215-5485 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Monday through Friday.

Hospital officials advise interested and eligible residents to schedule appointments to receive the vaccine as soon as possible as the supply is very limited and walk-ins are not accepted. The vaccine is free to everyone but people with insurance are asked to bring their insurance cards. A photo ID is not required, the statement said.

The only vaccination clinic open through UNC Health Care in the Rocky Mount area at this time is the Eastern North Carolina Medical Group on Noell Lane.

“Please be aware that appointments on the website show availability at clinics across the UNC Health system throughout North Carolina. Eligible residents can make an appointment at any clinic location but should pay special attention to the location they choose as some may not be close to where they live,” the statement said.

The hospital is not vaccinating the public at this time. The hospital continues to vaccinate health care workers and is providing resources and assistance to the clinic at Eastern North Carolina Medical Group, the statement said.

Hill said the county health department is continuing its vaccination efforts on a limited scale until more supplies become available.