North Carolina to get 85,000 initial Pfizer COVID vaccine doses

NORTH CAROLINA — Gov. Roy Cooper gave some more information during Tuesday’s new conference on North Carolina’s plan to distribute the COVID-19 vaccine.

If approved by the FDA, Pfizer’s vaccine will be shipped to North Carolina. The governor said they will have 84,800 doses of the vaccine which may be shipped, at the earliest, by Dec. 15.

The vaccine will be free regardless if someone has insurance or not, Cooper said.

Pfizer’s vaccine requires it to be kept at extremely cold temperatures, but the state said hospitals are prepared for this. Pfizer’s vaccine also requires two doses, 21 days apart.

This means 84,000 high-risk hospital employees, including doctors, nurses and cleaning staff who deal with COVID-19 each day will be the first ones to receive the vaccine.

Cooper said North Carolina will then receive weekly doses of the vaccine, however they don’t know how many doses.

In January, people living in long-term care facilities will be next in line to get vaccinated. After that, the state would focus on adults who have two or more chronic conditions.

Mecklenburg County Health Director Gibbie Harris said getting nursing home workers vaccinated is crucial.

“I want to emphasize staff, because that is where it is getting into the long-term care facilities,” Harris said.

Cooper also said that he believes in the science behind the vaccine and that people should get vaccinated.

“I have confidence in this process. Health care workers, people in long-term care and those at risk will come first, but when it’s my turn to get this vaccine, I will be ready to roll up my sleeve,” Cooper said.

The governor also said that once Moderna or another vaccine is approved, North Carolina will start getting shipments of that, as well.

Cooper’s announcement comes as state health officials on Tuesday reported a record number of COVID-19 hospitalizations for the fifth day in a row with 2,033.

This is the first time hospitalizations topped 2,000 since the pandemic began in March.