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Health leaders hopeful lifted mask mandate is incentive to get vaccination shot

Updated: May. 18, 2021 at 5:15 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - Demand for the COVID-19 vaccine is declining, but doctors are hoping loosening restrictions for vaccinated people will be an incentive to get the shot.

Last week, North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper announced that the state would follow CDC guidance on lifting the mask mandate for vaccinated people.

However, because it comes down to the honor system, it’s still unclear whether we will see a significant change in demand.

The parking lot of the Sheraton Hotel near the Charlotte airport was quiet Tuesday afternoon.

Walk-ins for the vaccine are not what they were when this site first opened.

Despite this, the recent easing of restrictions gives doctors hope.

“I hope that people really want to get out and get a vaccine so they don’t have to wear a mask,” Dr. Ashley Perrott with Novant Health said.

Evan Yonkers, who got his second dose Tuesday, said he thinks it’s a good incentive to get the shot.

“Absolutely,” Yonkers said. “I know we’re all tired of it. Working with it on every day gets old.”

Doctors also understand it all comes down to personal responsibility.

“We are all on the honor system,” Dr. Perrott said. “I really would encourage anyone who is not fully vaccinated to continue to wear a mask incase they do have a-symptomatic covid and are carrying the virus, or to prevent them from getting ill from someone else who may be spreading it.”

The fear of the unknown is keeping some people, like William Watson, from letting his guard down.

“Even though I got my second shot I’ll still be wearing the mask,” Watson told WBTV after his vaccine appointment.

If dropping the mask mandate does not drive more people to vaccine sites, Dr. Perrott said it could mean more spread of the virus.

“We’ll have to keep an eye out over the next two weeks to understand any change that’s made,” she said. “I’m hopeful that in that time frame we’ll see more people go out to get vaccinated.”

Health experts want to remind people that choosing not to get the shot does not just impact the individual.

It could mean the virus spreading and mutating, further straining the health system.

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