North Carolina on Monday entered 1b, the next phase of its COVID-19 vaccine rollout plan, meaning senior citizens 75 and older and more essential workers should soon have access to vaccines.
Each county will handle COVID-19 distribution to senior citizens differently. In a state briefing last week, North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen said she expects to share more information soon on the updated vaccine rollout plan.
Wake County released a statement saying local doctors, health departments and hospitals are currently working on a joint strategy to vaccinate the 75 and older population. The strategy may involve vaccinating seniors in their homes.
A statement on Wake County’s COVID-19 website asking for patience read, “Right now, there is not enough vaccine to move to Phase 1b. Wake County is vaccinating those who qualify for Phase 1a with the limited supply available. Phase 1a includes thousands of health care workers, medical staff and first responders who engage with COVID-19 patients, staff helping to administer vaccines, as well as long-term care staff and residents.”
In Wake County, essential workers who have not been vaccinated and senior citizens should wait for updates from public health officials.
The first Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines, which were administered in the United States in mid-December, were prioritized for healthcare workers and for those who live or work at long-term care facilities.
It has been 21 days since the first COVID-19 vaccine, manufactured by Pfizer-BioNTech, was administered in the Triangle. Anyone who received the Pfizer vaccine on Dec. 14 can now get their second dose.
At least three weeks must separate the administration of the two doses. The Pfizer vaccine appears to be about 52% effective after the first dose and 95% effective after the second dose. Both Pfizer and Moderna vaccines require two doses.
Phases 2, 3 and 4 are next
Phase 2, the next phase, will enable adults at high risk for exposure and at increased risk of severe illness to get vaccinations, including anyone ages 65-74, regardless of their medical condition or living situation.
Under Phase 2, people under 65 can get vaccinated if they have a medical condition that increases the risk of severe disease from COVID-19 along with remaining essential workers and people who live or work in care facilities.
In Phase 3, college, university and high school students 16 or older can get vaccinated. When the state enters Phase 4, anyone who wants a COVID-19 vaccine will be able to get one.
Cohen said it will be months before COVID-19 vaccines are widely available to the public.
“Until most people are vaccinated, everyone needs to continue to wear a mask, wait six feet apart, and wash their hands,” she said.
Coronavirus spiking in North Carolina
North Carolina has seen another spike in COVID-19 cases, with the first two days of 2021 showing 19,000 new cases in our state and most counties in red, a critical community spread zone. Doctors told WRAL it will take full two weeks after Christmas to see the holiday’s impact on COVID-19 numbers.
As many people return to work Monday, health officials advise anyone who traveled or gathered in a large group over the holidays get tested.
Wake County has set up new testing sites to help with the demand for testing, and some patients are getting results back in hours. Appointments are not needed.
Testing sites open Monday include:
Marsh Creek Park, 3050 N. New Hope Road, Raleigh
11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Roberts Park, 1300 E. Martin St.
11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Method Community Park, 514 Method Road, Raleigh
11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
On Monday, North Carolina could surpass 7,000 COVID-19 deaths. The number of people currently hospitalized with COVID-19 is 3,576, the highest number since the beginning of the pandemic.