RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — North Carolina health officials say health care providers and people with the highest risk of exposure to the virus will be prioritized for a COVID-19 vaccine.
Friday the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services submitted its plan for distributing a vaccine to the CDC.
According to the plan, the goal is to immunize everyone who is eligible for and wants a COVID-19 vaccine.
The plan was drafted under the assumption that limited supplies of a COVID19 vaccine would be available in late 2020 with increased supply in 2021. NCDHHS notes the interim plan will be updated as more data becomes available.
The plan also assumes the vaccine will be administered at least initially in two doses, separated by at least 21 days.
This North Carolina COVID-19 Vaccination Plan includes four phases of operation, with the first phase of distribution broken into two parts.
Phase 0 is the planning phase, which is currently underway. NCDHHS and others are finalizing priority populations and designing a process to identify providers.
The implementation phase will begin when the first, initially limited, vaccine doses are allocated to North Carolina.
During this time the vaccine will be administered to prioritized populations. The vaccines will most likely be administered in closed settings through a combination of vaccination clinics and on-site clinics administered by local health departments.
The second phase, adjustment, begins when larger amounts of the vaccine are available.
At this time providers will no longer be allocated doses but will order for themselves based on local demand. The vaccine will be administered in mass vaccination clinics.
The fourth phase transition begins when there is a sufficient vaccine to immunize anyone who wants to be vaccinated. This will be done similar to influenza vaccination distribution, according to NCDHHS.
Phase 1a of vaccine distribution will include healthcare workers and medical first responders who are at high risk of exposure or who are vital to COVID-19 vaccine distribution.
Phase 1a will also include staff in long-term care settings.
Phase 1a will likely involve vaccinating up to 161,000 people.
NCDHHS says CDC guidelines also begin with healthcare workers and first responders at high risk for COVID exposure. Not only can healthcare workers expose high-risk patients to the virus, but they can be advocates for vaccination, NCDHHS says.
Phase 1b of vaccine distribution will include residents in long-term care settings, people who have two or more chronic conditions, people over 65 years old who live in congregate settings, and staff in congregate settings such as, migrant farm camps, prisons/jails, and homeless shelters
Phase 1b will involve vaccinating up to 951,000 people.
The CDC currently defines chronic conditions with increased risk for COVID-19 as cancer, chronic kidney disease, COPD, immunosuppression due to organ transplant, obesity, a serious heart condition, sickle cell disease, and Type 2 diabetes.
During phase 2, people in congregate living settings younger than 65 years old with one or no chronic conditions, frontline workers at high or moderate risk of exposure who have one or no chronic conditions, adults with one chronic condition, people 65 and older with one or no chronic conditions, all other healthcare workers, and school staff are eligible to be vaccinated.
Phase 2 will involve vaccinating up to 1.57 million people.
Phase 3 includes remaining frontline workers, as well as K-12 and college students.
Phase 3 will likely involve vaccinating up to 767,000 people.
Phase 4 includes the remaining population of North Carolina, vaccinating up to four million people.
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