After initial distribution, NC faces uncertainty about federal shipments of future vaccines

State to offer 300+ free COVID testing sites over the next two weeks

Governor Roy Cooper said this week’s distribution of the Pfizer vaccine shows real hope is on the horizon in bringing an end to the painful losses of the COVID pandemic. 

Eight hospitals received doses of the vaccine today, following Monday’s distribution.  

This Thursday, 42 more hospitals are in line to receive the Pfizer vaccine.  

And following FDA approval, 175,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine could arrive in North Carolina next week, with more than half of those earmarked for long-term care facilities. 

Beyond that questions remain. 

“North Carolina and every other state need clarity from the federal government as to how many doses of the Pfizer vaccine we will receive going forward,” said Gov. Cooper on Tuesday. “We’ve been told each Friday we’ll get information about the following week’s shipment, giving the states just a few hours to direct where those shipments will go.” 

Cooper said he raised the issue with Vice President Pence on Monday, requesting more time for critical planning.  

Health and Human Services Sec. Mandy Cohen echoed those concerns. 

“I hope the federal government will reconsider that timeline. It’s not enough time for the state and providers to plan for appropriate allocations or to coordinate vaccine schedules.” 

A state-run database will help record how many people have received the first dose of vaccine and which vaccine they were given. Pfizer requires a second shot after 21 days, Moderna requires a booster in 28 days.  

“And as we get more vaccine and spread it out further, it will get more complex because there will be more people involved,” said Cooper. 

Renewed worry about hospital staffs as COVID cases rise

Cohen said while the vaccine’s arrival marks a historic and emotional moment, one cannot ignore the staggering rise in COVID cases. 

The state has twice as many people hospitalized (2,735) with COVID 19 as it did just one month ago. 

And while North Carolina has the bed capacity at the moment, Sec. Cohen warned it is taking its toll on health workers. 

“For us in North Carolina, it’s not a physcal space, but rather a limitation on the people, the doctors, the nurses in particular that are needed, that are really strained here,” explained Cohen. “There is not an ability for us to call a partner in another state and for them to be able to send people or staff resources.” 

Cohen and the governor are urging North Carolinians to avoid travel over the upcoming holidays, and to get tested for COVID if they insist on visiting with friends or extended family.

One other recommendation: People who have symptoms of COVID-19 or who have been around a person with COVID-19 should not shop in person until their isolation or quarantine period has ended. 

The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services is offering more than 300 no-cost, walk-up or drive through COVID-19 testing events over the next two weeks. 

For a full list of all testing event times and locations throughout the state, visit the No-Cost Community Testing Events page on the NCDHHS website. 


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