On a day that saw more than 2,000 COVID hospitalizations, Governor Roy Cooper said that work is underway to distribute a vaccine in the coming weeks that will be free for everyone.
“North Carolina is working hard to hit the ground running when these vaccines are approved and shipped. But there’s still a lot of work to get the vaccines to from the manufacturers to our health care providers like hospitals and health departments and ultimately to each of us,” explained Cooper on Tuesday.
North Carolina will be distributing the Pfizer vaccine that has shown in preliminary data to be 90 percent effective against COVID. State officials acknowledge that one challenge will be keeping this vaccine stable in ultracold freezers at minus-70 degrees Celsius.
Once approved by the FDA, the state expects to receive an estimated 85,000 doses, which will be distributed to North Carolina health care workers and first responders.
State Health and Human Services Secretary Mandy Cohen says that as other vaccines win approval (likely Moderna followed by AstraZeneca-Oxford) the state will begin receiving weekly allocations of vaccines.
Before the FDA will authorize the vaccines an independent advisory board will review the data for safety.
Click here to listen to Dr. Cohen discuss who will be among the first to get the highly-anticipated shots:
It’s difficult to determine how many North Carolinians will be covered initially, as both Pfizer and Moderna require two shots given several weeks apart to be effective.
“The COVID-19 vaccine will be free regardless of whether someone has health insurance,” the governor reassured.
Cooper says when it’s his turn to receive the vaccine, he will gladly roll-up his sleeve.
Because it will be several months before there is sufficient quantities of the vaccine for everyone, Sec. Cohen cautioned that mask wearing and social distancing will remain critical.
“Masks are going to be with us particularly as we think about celebrating Christmas and New Years. Masks are going to be incredibly, incredibly important.”
With a 10.2% positivity rate, Cohen also suggested on Tuesday that people further limit their social circles to minimize community spread.