The Food and Drug Administration granted an emergency use authorization for the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine on Friday.
This comes as 16 million people have tested positive for COVID-19 in the United States and more than 298,000 have died from the virus. Worldwide, 1.6 million have died, and 71 million have been infected with COVID-19.
North Carolina and South Carolina have already started creating plans for how a vaccine would be distributed throughout the states.
Officials said North Carolina is set to get about 85,000 doses in the first shipment, and 53 hospitals across the state will get them.
On Monday, Atrium Health announced it was the first health system in North Carolina to administer an FDA-approved COVID-19 vaccine from Pfizer. The distribution of the vaccine will continue throughout the week as more hospitals receive the vaccine.
North Carolina’s COVID-19 vaccination plan lays out who will get the vaccine first and when it will be distributed.
- Every health care worker at high risk for exposure to COVID-19 -- doctors, nurses, and all who interact and care for patients with COVID-19, including those who clean areas used by patients, and those giving vaccines to these workers.
- Long-Term Care staff and residents -- people in skilled nursing facilities and in adult, family and group homes.
- Adults with two or more chronic conditions that put them at risk of severe illness as defined by the CDC, including conditions like cancer, COPD, serious heart conditions, sickle cell disease and Type 2 diabetes, among others.
- Adults at high risk of exposure including essential frontline workers (police, food processing, teachers), health care workers, and those living in prisons, homeless shelters, migrant and fishery housing with 2+ chronic conditions.
- Those working in prisons, jails and homeless shelters (no chronic conditions requirement).
- Essential frontline workers, health care workers, and those living in prisons, homeless shelters or migrant and fishery housing.
- Adults 65+
- Adults under 65 with one chronic condition that puts them at risk of severe illness as defined by the CDC.
- College and university students.
- K-12 students when there is an approved vaccine for children.
- Those employed in jobs that are critical to society and at lower risk of exposure.
- Everyone who wants a safe and effective COVID-19 vaccination.
The Department of Health and Environmental Control said it received its first allocation of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine on Monday.
Health officials anticipate nearly 43,000 doses to arrive by Wednesday, with an expected 200,000 to 300,000 doses by the end of the year.
South Carolina plans to distribute the vaccine first to these groups of people, among others:
- Frontline health care workers
- Residents of nursing homes/long term care
- Critical infrastructure employees (government, transportation, EMS/law enforcement, energy, food/agriculture, financial, teachers)
Gov. Henry McMaster said some of the next people to get the vaccine are those over the age of 75, and people with at least two health conditions.
He said teachers, bus drivers, other essential workers, people over the age of 65, and those with one underlying health condition would be next in line.
Lastly, everyone else in the state who wants the vaccine could get it.
McMaster said the vaccine distribution in South Carolina will be a slow process. The general public may not get the vaccine until the spring or summer.