Majority in NC not likely to get COVID-19 vaccine until late 2021


RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – Dr. Mark McLellan, a former FDA commissioner turned Duke University health policy center director is optimistic about 2021.

“The months ahead are going to be looking better than the weeks ahead,” said Dr. McLellan.

COVID-19 numbers are once again surging in North Carolina and across the country. The state’s positivity rate for tests is sitting above 8-percent and daily hospitalizations surpassed 1,500 for the first time.

The two vaccines coming down the pipeline and treatments in development signal a small sign of hope. Dr. McLellan said this current surge could be the last in the pandemic.

He expects the FDA to sign off on Moderna or Pfizer’s vaccine in the next month.

“There’s been remarkable progress on vaccines. Those aren’t really going to be kicking in in terms of reducing risk for a few more months,” said Dr. McLellan.

If all goes well, he expects health care professionals and the most at risk to be vaccinated by the end of December.

Those with chronic conditions, in high-risk settings or over 60 could be looking at a late January or February vaccination.

It won’t be until the second half of 2021 that he expects the every day person could be vaccinated.

“We won’t be at broad immunity. We won’t be past this for still months to come but it will start to get better by early 2021,” said Dr. McLellan.

Vaccine priority list

Each state was required to put together a COVID-19 vaccination distribution plan. Below is North Carolina’s distribution plan.

Phase 1a:

  • Health care workers and medical first responders at high risk of exposure or vital to COVID-19 vaccine distribution
  • Staff in long-term care settings
  • Up to 161,000 people

Phase 1b:

  • Residents in long-term care settings
  • People who have two or more chronic conditions
  • 65 years old or older who live in congregate settings
  • Staff in congregate settings such as, migrant farm camps, prisons/jails, and homeless shelters
  • Up to 951,000 people

Phase 2

  • People in congregate living settings younger than 65 years old with one or no chronic conditions
  • Frontline workers at high/moderate risk of exposure with one or no chronic conditions
  • Adults with one chronic condition
  • People 65 and older with one or no chronic conditions
  • All other health care workers, school staff
  • Up to 1.57 million people

Phase 3

  • Remaining frontline workers
  • K-12 and college students
  • Up to 767,000 people

Phase 4

  • Remaining population of North Carolina
  • Up to 4 million people

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