Initial COVID-19 Vaccines Could Become Available In NC As Early As Mid December
Updated at 6:10 p.m.
Governor Roy Cooper announced Tuesday that North Carolina could receive a limited supply of a COVID-19 vaccine in as soon as two weeks. Hospital workers will be first in line to get it.
The vaccine will be coming from Pfizer, the first company to request FDA approval. Cooper said the state expects to get an initial 85,000 doses once the FDA approval clears. The vaccine will be free for all, including for those without health insurance, said Cooper.
At the Tuesday press briefing, Cooper discussed the safety protocols around the vaccine.
“Before the FDA will authorize these vaccines, an independent advisory board will review the data for safety. This advisory board has no loyalties to any company, political administration or individual,” he said.
The Pfizer vaccine requires ultra-cold storage, so Cooper said there will be some logistical challenges for rolling it out to rural areas.
“We’re a big state with rural areas that stretch for hundreds of miles,” said Cooper. “We’ll work hard to overcome challenges that our geography presents.”
At the briefing, state Health Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen explained how her department intends to distribute the first doses.
“Initially, this very limited supply of vaccines will go to a limited number of hospital settings to vaccinate health care workers at high risk of exposure to COVID-19: those who are caring for or cleaning areas used by patients with COVID-19,” she said.
North Carolina has a distribution plan that will roll out the vaccine in four stages. The first stage also includes staff and residents at long-term care facilities like adult care and nursing homes.
Cooper and Cohen stressed the need to continue abiding by mask mandates and social distancing rules as key metrics for the spread of the coronavirus in North Carolina continue to trend up.