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Covid vaccine in NC goes to limited hospital settings, healthcare workers first

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Pfizer's Covid-19 vaccine is expected in North Carolina in December but will not be available beyond hospital settings and long-term care communities until January or later.

As the number of people hospitalized in North Carolina hits a record high for the fourth day in a row, state officials are rolling out their plan for distribution of the Covid vaccine.  

Two companies are on the verge of shipping out a vaccine – Pfizer and Moderna, and state officials say Pfizer’s is the one they expect in North Carolina.  The vaccine will be free.  And it can’t come soon enough as more people head to the ER with Covid-like symptoms, the percentage of positive tests is now over 10%, and the number of new cases continues to rise. 

Secretary of Health and Human Services Dr. Mandy Cohen says North Carolina’s first allotment of about 85,000 doses will go to a limited number of hospitals.

"...to vaccinate healthcare workers at high risk of exposure to Covid-19 -- those who are caring for or cleaning areas used by patients with Covid-19.  As more vaccine becomes available, we’ll be able to have vaccines distributed to more of the state’s hospitals and then to our local health departments to focus on vaccinating our high-risk health care workers."

Long-term care staff and residents are also a high-priority group.  Adults at high risk for complications from the virus, says Cohen, should have access to the vaccine by January. 

Until then, Governor Roy Cooper insists that mask-wearing and limiting in-person social activity is key to controlling the spread.  But if the numbers continue to climb, Cooper says nothing is off the table – including a statewide curfew.