RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – North Carolina could be less than two weeks away from receiving its first allocation of a COVID-19 vaccine.
However, officials caution the first round of the vaccine will be in limited supply.
“Health care workers, people in long-term care and those at risk for severe illness will come first. But when it’s my turn to get this vaccine, I’ll be ready to roll up my sleeve,” said Gov. Roy Cooper.
According to North Carolina’s Department of Health and Human Service, the state is expected to get its first allocation of 85,000 Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines on Dec. 14.
NCDHHS said those are intended as first doses.
The federal government will ship second doses at a later date to make sure there are enough supplies for everyone who got the first dose.
NCDHHS expected to receive its first allocation of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccines on Dec. 21.
Officials said the state expects to receive additional vaccines each week, so by Dec. 21, there will be weekly allocations of two COVID-19 vaccines.
“Safe, effective vaccines should be available soon. Our job is to be ready to get them to people as quickly and effectively as possible,” Cooper said.
According to the state’s COVID-19 vaccine plan, there are up to 951,000 people in priority groups 1a and 1b combined to make up the first phase of distribution.
The state’s plan placed residents in long-term care facilities were in priority group 1b. However, a CDC advisory panel voted Tuesday to include LTC residents in group 1a.
NCDHHS said initially, group 1a had up to 161,000 people. Officials say they will now include LTC residents in group 1a, adding as many as an additional 77,000 people as the very first to be vaccinated.
The vote by the CDC advisory panel was praised by the American Health Care Association and National Center for Assisted Living.
“We are extremely hopeful this vaccine will literally be a lifesaver for thousands of residents and expedite the reopening of our facilities to family members and loved ones,” they said in a statement.
NCDHHS Secretary Dr. Many Cohen said the first phases of vaccination will focus on frontline healthcare workers at high risk for exposure and those are folks in nursing homes, adult care homes and other long-term care settings.
After that, she said adults with two or more chronic conditions that put them at higher risk for severe illness from COVID19 such as heart disease or diabetes, will be able to get vaccinated. Cohen anticipates the beginning sometime in January.