At the Coronavirus Task Force press conference Tuesday, N.C. Gov. Roy Cooper and Dr. Mandy Cohen, secretary of North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, announced the Pfizer vaccine for Covid-19 could reach North Carolinians sometime during the week of Dec. 19.
The FDA has yet to authorize either Pfizer or Moderna vaccines. According to the governor, the Pfizer vaccine is at the stage where an independent advisory committee will look over its data. Then it goes to the FDA for approval. It’s being projected to have a 95% efficacy rate against Covid-19, according to trial studies.
Cohen and the governor anticipate around 85,000 doses to arrive in the state. The vaccine will be free to everyone, regardless of insurance, with costs being covered by the government and insurance companies. Distribution will be prioritized among four distinctive groups of people.
First, the vaccines will be distributed to front-line healthcare workers, as well as patients with severe illnesses and those who clean up after highly infected areas. Second, the vaccine will be distributed around January to patients considered high-risk, with two or more chronic conditions that make them susceptible to Covid-19, and folks in long-term care settings, like nursing homes. Third, it will be made available to any essential worker of the state, including government, school, and university employees.
Once the first three groups have been serviced, then the fourth group — the general public — will gain access to the vaccine.
The vaccine will be given in two shots 21 days apart.
Once the first round of vaccines are released, the federal government will dole out a certain amount of allocations weekly to the states.
“We don’t know how many doses we are getting at an ongoing basis,” Cohen said.
“When it’s my turn to get this vaccine, I’ll be ready to roll up my sleeve,” Cooper said.
Both Cohen and the governor iterated a need for citizens to continue following the three Ws (wear a mask, wait 6 feet apart and wash your hands), as well as all executive orders that limit mass gatherings, and maintain mask-wearing outside of the home — especially when around nonhousehold contacts (both inside and outside).
“We are seeing cases and hospitalizations rise steady,” he said. “We need to keep doing what we know works.”
Positive Covid-19 cases are rising, with 367,395 cases to date, as are hospitalizations, with 1,966 just on Monday. More than 5,000 have died in North Carolina.
“Our trends are worrisome,” Cohen said.
Cooper praised towns that amped up enforcement of protocols, including Asheville and Winston Salem. However, he didn’t say if more mandates were coming, whether in the form of shutdowns or curfews.
“If people abide and local government, law enforcement and others will help us enforce, we can avoid going backward,” the governor noted.
Tips, ideas or comments? Email firstname.lastname@example.org