CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - North Carolina health officials have submitted their COVID-19 vaccination plan to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The goal of the state’s COVID-19 Vaccination Plan is to immunize everyone who is eligible for and wants a COVID-19 vaccine.
“Leaders from across sectors came together under tight timelines to collaboratively develop a vaccine plan that leads with equity and prioritizes building trust. We will continue to update this plan as we learn more from the science and data on vaccines and in response to the needs of North Carolinians,” said NC Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Mandy K. Cohen, M.D.
The plan outlines how distribution would be handled. Pharmacies would play a key role.
“Really, I think the state is on the right path," said Kyle Yoder of Moose Pharmacy. "Pharmacists are a trusted and trained provider that is willing and able to give COVID vaccines, not only in our local pharmacies, but be able to go out into our local communities and vaccinate in places like nursing homes, or do clinics in civic centers, local businesses, churches.”
North Carolina’s vaccine plan reflects five principles that guide the planning for and distribution of one or more COVID-19 vaccines in the state.
The principles include:
- All North Carolinians have equitable access to vaccines.
- Vaccine planning and distribution is inclusive; actively engages state and local government, public and private partners; and draws upon the experience and expertise of leaders from historically marginalized populations.
- Transparent, accurate and frequent public communications is essential to building trust.
- Data is used to promote equity, track progress and guide decision-making.
- Appropriate stewardship of resources and continuous evaluation and improvement drive successful implementation.
“North Carolina Emergency Management has been working with our partners at the NC Department of Health and Human Services to ensure we have a solid coronavirus vaccine plan,” said NCEM Director Mike Sprayberry. “From an operational perspective, this plan engages the state’s resources down to a county and local level and allows for flexibility based on data so we can pivot quickly and get the vaccine to those who are most in need.”
Currently, multiple vaccines are in development.
Once the Food and Drug Administration authorizes a vaccine, it will take time for manufacturers to ramp up production. Therefore, states will receive limited vaccine supplies at the start and will need to determine which populations receive the vaccine first.
Does all of this planning mean that a vaccine is on the way? Meredith Littell, Director of Nursing with the Rowan County Health Department, believes that it does.
“That really is kind of the first step in saying ‘yes, it’s coming.’ Everybody start preparing and let’s get it out there," Littell said.
North Carolina’s prioritization framework was developed based on the National Academy of Medicine framework and in consultation with an external COVID-19 Vaccine Advisory Committee convened by the North Carolina Institute of Medicine.
“Our convening of the COVID-19 Vaccine Advisory Committee informed the state’s plan with independent and diverse perspectives from experts and community leaders across our state. The committee was composed of a broad range of leaders, including from those populations most significantly affected by COVID-19, including racial and ethnicity groups, health care, public health and academia, who worked diligently over the past month in order to fully address equity, inequalities and health issues that are driving the pandemic and creating mistrust,” Michelle Ries, Interim Director, North Carolina Institute of Medicine.
This is an interim plan and will continue to be revised based on further information and guidance from the CDC and other federal agencies, increasing data on safety and efficacy from vaccine trials, ongoing input from state and local partners and the Vaccine Advisory Committee, and refinements needed as the state progresses through the planning and operational stages.
North Carolina’s COVID-19 Vaccination Plan builds on the foundation of the state’s overall goals and pillars of response to the pandemic: Prevention, Testing, Tracing, Isolation and Quarantine.
North Carolina took early and aggressive action to slow the spread of the virus, built statewide capacity for testing, personal protective equipment supplies and contract tracing, developed hospital surge plans, and promoted aggressive prevention strategies.