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COVID-19 vaccines in North Carolina arrive, here’s the state’s plan for rollout

This illustration created at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

UPDATED: North Carolina adjusted its rollout based on the White House recommendations in late December.

The primary changes: Phase 1B split into groups, to include all adults 75 and older in the first, essential health care workers 50 and older in the second and frontline workers of any age in the third. [read more]

Previous update, Dec. 22:

The first vaccines for COVID-19 arrived in North Carolina hospitals on Dec. 14 from Pfizer. Since then, more details about the state’s rollout were shared by state officials.

The Moderna COVID-19 vaccine was given emergency use authorization Friday, and it was expected to arrive in North Carolina Monday, the News & Observer reports. As reported previously, the Moderna vaccine is anticipated to be used for staff and residents in long-term care facilities, but the N&O article shares that it will be also used at hospitals in parts of the state that didn’t have access to the Pfizer vaccine.

COVID-19 vaccine rollout in N.C.:

According to the state’s vaccine site, the four-phase plan (Phase 1 has two parts) will increase in availability as supply increases between January and June. This initial plan could change slightly, with new guidance from the CDC.

Phase 1a: Health care workers serving COVID-19 patients and long-term care workers will have access first.

Congregate living facilities are experiencing increasing outbreaks of COVID-19 in Wake County.

Phase 1b: Adults who are considered at highest risk of severe illness and exposure will be able to get the vaccine next. This includes people with two or more conditions such as cancer, sickle cell disease, Type 2 diabetes, COPD, or serious heart conditions.

Adults eligible in this round also include those working in prisons, jails or homeless shelters, even without chronic conditions.

The two prisons and county jail in Wake County have all experienced COVID-19 outbreaks: The women’s prison outbreak has included 273 confirmed cases and 1 death, Central Prison’s COVID-19 outbreak included 36 confirmed cases and 3 deaths, the Wake County Jail COVID-19 outbreak includes 40 confirmed cases.

Farmworker housing, which is unnamed by the state and categorized as “other” could include two outbreaks.

Phase 2: Adults who are considered essential frontline workers, such as healthcare workers, who didn’t receive the vaccine in Phase 1b could receive the vaccine next.

This phase would also make the vaccine available to those who are living in prisons, homeless shelters or migrant housing, are eligible next.

Adults 65 or older who are healthy, or adults younger than 65 with one chronic condition, can also get the vaccine during this phase.

Phase 3: Includes college students and “those employed in jobs that are critical to society and at lower risk of exposure” (will be updated with additional information when available).

This phase would also give K-12 students access to a vaccine, but there is not yet an approved vaccine for children. The Wall Street Journal reports that testing on children as young as 12 is in progress for some of the vaccines.

Phase 4: Anyone who wants access to the vaccine could receive it.

Still unknown: Timeline of phases, availability

Each Friday by 8 p.m., North Carolina is informed how many vaccines it will receive the following Monday, Gov. Cooper said in a Tuesday press conference. That doesn’t allow enough time for coordination, he said.

“The more certainty we have on those numbers… the more time we have to plan,” said NC Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Mandy Cohen.

Hospitals are receiving the Pfizer vaccine, but — if approved — the Moderna vaccine would be targeted for those in long-term care facilities because the Moderna vaccine doesn’t require the same level of “ultra-cold” storage

Dr. Cohen said she can’t say “with precision” when the vaccines will be widely available for healthy adults younger than 65, but expect “well into the spring.”

More resources

Carolina Public Press’ FAQ on vaccines in NC

What to know now in Wake County (updated weekdays)

Black Coalition Against COVID

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Author: raleighconvergence

Sarah Day Owen Wiskirchen is the editor of Raleigh Convergence.

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