N.C. health officials say two coronavirus vaccine doses needed for protection

Updated: Dec. 10, 2020 at 3:10 PM EST
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - North Carolina health officials provided a deeper look at distribution plans for the COVID-19 vaccine Thursday, saying that two doses of the vaccine will be needed for protection.

NCDHHS Secretary Mandy Cohen said “we will soon have the tool we have been waiting for,” while discussing the vaccine, side effects and the distribution plan. The vaccine creates the antibody the body will use in case it later comes in contact with the virus, Cohen said.

The vaccines do not actually have the COVID-19 virus in them. Instead, the vaccine imitates the COVID-19 virus, so bodies think a germ like a virus is attacking, which makes creates an antibody to fight off the virus.

Cohen mentioned the following potential side effects with the vaccine:

  • Swelling at the injection site
  • Tiredness
  • Feeling “off” for a day or two

“When the vaccine’s available, it’s going to be free to everyone,” Cohen said. The price will either be paid by insurance or the government, according to Cohen.

North Carolina health officials discuss COVID-19 vaccines and distribution across the state

N.C. COVID-19 VACCINE: North Carolina health officials are discussing plans for the coronavirus vaccines and their distribution across the state. Here's where N.C. stands right now » https://bit.ly/37STTqk Watch live 👇

Posted by WBTV News on Thursday, December 10, 2020

Once vaccines are authorized by the FDA, they will be shipped in batches of 975 per unit to 11 hospitals in North Carolina. The number of total vaccines shipped is expected to be 85,500. Those hospitals have the capacity to properly hold the vaccines. At that point, Cohen says the hospitals will continue to hold the vaccines until receiving the final step from the CDC. A meeting is set for this weekend.

After the CDC makes its recommendation, the manufacturer will begin shipping to additional 42 hospitals in our state, Cohen said. The vaccines will start with distribution to those most at risk, starting with healthcare workers at high risk of exposure to COVID-9.

Health leaders are hoping as many people as possible in North Carolina get the vaccine. It will likely be spring until a vaccine is widely available across North Carolina for the general population.

Two doses required

Two vaccine doses are required, health leaders say. State officials are working on the data tracking system to make sure they track who is getting the second dose, which they say is important to make sure resident’s are protected.

“This isn’t just one shot, we have to have everyone get two vaccinations before they have the protection from this vaccine,” Cohen said. Every two weeks, officials are expected to receive the follow-up dose from the first doses.

Both vaccines will need to doses to be effective.

Walgreens and CVS will be doing the vaccination work, Cohen says of allocation, which will be during week two when vaccinations will be done in long-term care and nursing home settings.

Two-part authorization


  • Independent advisory committee for FDA reviews data for trials determines if the vaccine is safe and if it can prevent people from getting COVID
  • FDA is in consult with that advisory board before making that decision
  • Based on the review, the FDA will make a decision to authorize the vaccine for emergency use


  • Another independent advisory committee for the CDC reviews the data from the clinical trial and recommends who should the vaccine. For example, this committee could determine is not appropriate for an ae group based on the data or for people with certain conditions.
  • Only after both steps are complete, can the vaccine be given to people
  • Once the FDA (first step) authorizes the vaccine, it will be shipped to 11 hospitals in North Carolina.
  • Those hospitals have sufficient ultra-cold storage capacity to hold the vaccine while waiting for the second step (CDC committed authorization)
  • If a decision is delayed past Sunday, the 11 hospitals have the capacity to safely store for a longer period of time.
  • After the CDC makes the recommendations, the manufactures will start shipping vaccines using dry ice to an additional 42 other hospitals in our states. Those hospitals were chosen on bed capacity, health care workers and county population.

The federal government determines how much vaccine goes to our state based on populations.

North Carolina has done a lot of focus groups about the weariness of getting the vaccine. Cohen says people need to do get the vaccine if we’re going to go back to normal lives. She hopes for more federal support, both in dollars and messaging, of getting people on board to get the vaccine.

It’s possible that the vaccines will ship in the next few days

The state announced this week that 11 facilities, including three in the WBTV viewing area, will receive the early shipment of the COVID-19 vaccine.

Those facilities include Caldwell Memorial Hospital, Catawba Valley Medical Center and The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Hospital Authority (CMC Enterprise) - Atrium Health.


These other facilities across North Carolina will also receive an early shipment of vaccines:

  • Bladen Healthcare LLC (Bladen County Hospital)
  • Caldwell Memorial Hospital
  • CarolinaEast Medical Center
  • Catawba Valley Medical Center
  • Cumberland County Hospital System Inc (Cape Fear Valley Health System)
  • Duke University Health System
  • Henderson County Hospital Corporation (Margaret R. Pardee Memorial Hospital)
  • Hoke Healthcare LLC (Hoke Hospital)
  • The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Hospital Authority (CMC Enterprise) - Atrium Health
  • University of North Carolina Shared Services Agreement
  • Wake Forest Baptist Health

North Carolina health officials say more hospitals will also get vaccine shipments during Phase 1a.

“Once a vaccine is authorized for use, supplies will be very limited at first,” health officials said in a statement. “Independent federal and state groups of experts determined that the best way to fight COVID-19 is to start first with vaccinations for those most at risk.”

The initial supply of vaccines will all go to a limited number of hospitals to vaccinate health care workers at high risk of exposure to COVID-19 – those who are caring for or cleaning areas used by patients with COVID-19.

Health officials say that because of the limited initial vaccine supply, not all hospitals will receive vaccine initially.

“As more vaccine becomes available, it will be distributed to more of the state’s hospitals and to our local health departments to focus on vaccinating high-risk health care workers,” state health officials say.

Long-term care staff and residents will also be in the first group to receive the vaccine.

The majority of long term care facilities will be vaccinated with state allocated vaccine by the federal pharmacy partnership for LTC with CVS and Walgreens.

Following these groups will be adults with two more chronic conditions that the CDC has defined as putting them at high risk for serious illness. If the FDA grants Emergency Use Authorization, a CDC committee will review the data and recommendations based on which populations should receive the vaccine.

North Carolina health officials say a COVID-19 vaccine could be in their hands within days, even possibly as early as Dec. 15, if approved and cleared to be distributed.

Health officials expect their first vaccine shipment to contain about 85,000 doses.

While doses will be in short supply early on, officials are making plans on who will be eligible to receive the vaccine first.

Healthcare workers, those at long-term living facilities, the elderly, and those significantly at-risk will be given vaccine priority.

“Our job is to get them to people as quickly and effectively as possible,” North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper said. “North Carolina is working hard to hit the ground running once these vaccines are approved and shipped.”

Cooper said last week that North Carolina health officials are preparing to receive the vaccine produced by Pfizer, which must be held in ultra-cold storage. Health officials said early trials have shown the vaccine to be 95 percent effective.

Moderna is also working on a COVID-19 vaccine that has shown positive early results.

Officials say a COVID-19 vaccine will be free no matter if you have health insurance or not.

Tryon Medical Partners CEO Dr. Dale Owen explained what effects you could feel after taking a vaccine.

“More likely to have sensitivity at the site of injection, some redness or soreness there. Sometimes muscle aches or low-grade temperate from around one or two days. That’s been the main group of symptoms,” said Owen.

He says both Moderna and Pfizer vaccines have proven to be effective during testing.

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