‘This is our Super Bowl’: Atrium Health distributes first Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine doses to frontline workers

First healthcare workers receive vaccine

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV/AP) - The first shipment of a COVID-19 vaccine was received by healthcare facilities in North Carolina.

A short time after Gov. Roy Cooper announced that the first COVID-19 vaccine doses arrived in North Carolina, Atrium Health in Charlotte posted that the vaccine arrived at the healthcare facility.

“The vaccine has arrived at Atrium Health. We are excited to be among the 1st in the nation to receive the first doses of Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine,” Atrium Health tweeted. “This is an exciting day as we enter a very hopeful phase in defeating this virus. Stay tuned for updates here.”

Atrium Health Chief Medical Officer Gary Little said Atrium Health received its first shipment of vaccines earlier than expected, at around 9:30 a.m. on Monday.

Atrium Health has already started to give vaccines to its frontline healthcare workers.

Little said he couldn’t be more excited about the vaccine.

“This is our Super Bowl,” Little said. “We’ve been preparing for this since the start of the pandemic.”

Little said Atrium Health didn’t receive its full first shipment of the vaccine but expects more by the end of the week.”

A short time after Gov. Roy Cooper announced that the first COVID-19 vaccine doses arrived in North Carolina, Atrium Health in Charlotte posted that the vaccine arrived at the healthcare facility.
A short time after Gov. Roy Cooper announced that the first COVID-19 vaccine doses arrived in North Carolina, Atrium Health in Charlotte posted that the vaccine arrived at the healthcare facility. (Source: Atrium Health | Twitter)

By Monday afternoon, five healthcare workers with Atrium Health were given their first COVID-19 vaccine.

The first person in North Carolina was vaccinated for COVID-19 Monday: Atrium Health’s Medical Director of Infection Prevention Dr. Katie Passaretti.

“I couldn’t be more excited. I feel perfectly fine,” Pasaretti said, calling it a “moment of hope” and a “potential for change of the course that we’re on.”

Little said those who took the vaccine shot were doing well.

“Everybody is doing great and feeling great,” Little said. “They are super excited to be one of the first ones to be vaccinated in North Carolina.”

Little said 15 more healthcare workers will receive the vaccine on Monday and throughout the week,

The initial shipment was given to what Little calls “Group 1A” which refers to frontline healthcare workers dealing directly with the virus.

“We are really prioritizing our frontline team that is caring for patients who have COVID-19,” Little said.

The Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine must be held in ultra-cold storage refrigerators. Little says Atrium Health has the capacity to hold 300,000 doses of the vaccine.

Little said he expects enough vaccines for the next group by February, but he isn’t ready to guess when it will be available for the general public.

“We cannot move on while we are finished with Group 1A,” Little said. “My guess when we would move to Group 1B would probably be in February. For the general public, that’s a little murky for me.”

Monday morning, Gov. Cooper Cooper tweeted that the first doses of the coronavirus vaccine were in North Carolina.

“The first doses of COVID-19 vaccine have arrived in North Carolina. It’s a limited supply for now, but this is a remarkable achievement for science and health. We all need to keep wearing a mask and acting responsibly while we get as many people vaccinated as fast as we can,” Cooper tweeted.

Charlotte Mayor Vi Lyles encouraged everyone to get the vaccine when it’s available, saying she would be doing the same.

“As a leader, and a person of color, I believe it’s important to declare my commitment to get the vaccine because I am confident that it is safe and will be effective,” said Lyles. “And while I will get my vaccine after healthcare workers, first responders and our community’s most vulnerable citizens, I am making my plans known today in an effort to help others have the same confidence in the science.”

On Saturday, U.S. officials said the government gave the final go-ahead to the shots needed to end an outbreak that has killed nearly 300,000 Americans.

Health officials held a press conference on Operation Warp Speed COVID-19 vaccine distribution on Monday.

COVID-19 VACCINE UPDATE: The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Defense along with senior officials on Operation Warp Speed are holding a briefing on the COVID-19 vaccine distribution » https://bit.ly/37XUSFE Watch live 👇

Posted by WBTV News on Monday, December 14, 2020

Trucks rolled out Sunday morning as shipping companies UPS and FedEx begin delivering Pfizer’s vaccine to nearly 150 distribution centers across the states, said Army Gen. Gustave Perna of Operation Warp Speed, the Trump administration’s vaccine development program.

Click here to view the CDC’s VaxView, which provides vaccination coverage data for all ages.

An additional 425 sites will get shipments Tuesday, and the remaining 66 on Wednesday.

North Carolina health leaders have released details of the COVID-19 vaccine allocation plan for the first week of distribution.

All sites receiving Week 1 allocations are hospitals.

Officials say the 11 facilities receiving advance/early shipments are but a portion of the sites included in the week-1 distribution. The 11 facilities have sufficient ultra-cold-storage space to get and hold the vaccines.

Over the weekend, the CDC director gave the greenlight on the Pfizer BioNTech coronavirus vaccine. This was the final step needed before healthcare workers could administer the vaccine.

The first wave of shipments is going to health care workers and nursing home residents. Officials say vaccines should be available to everyone by the middle of next year.

Officials say 42 hospitals in North Carolina were chosen based on bed capacity, health care workers and county population.

The federal government will determine how much vaccine will go to each state based on population.

North Carolina expects to receive 85,800 doses of the Pfizer vaccine in this first shipment. These will be shipped in batches of at least 975 doses.

So each location must be able to store this amount in ultra-cold storage or keep the shipping container refilled with dry ice for up to 30 days or use the doses within 10 to 15 days without refilling dry ice.

Officials say they do not yet know Week 2 allocations, so they do not have a list of hospitals that will receive Week 2 doses nor how many.

The list of hospitals is below:

Hospital Week 1 Allocations - Doses
Blue Ridge HealthCare Hospitals, Inc 975
Caldwell Memorial Hospital 975
Cape Fear Valley Health System 2,925
Hoke Hospital 975
Bladen County Hospital 975
CarolinaEast Medical Center 975
Carteret County General Hospital 975
Catawba Valley Medical Center 975
Frye Regional Medical Center 975
DLP Wilson Medical Center 975
Duke Raleigh Hospital 1,950
Duke Regional Hospital 1,950
Duke University Hospital 2,925
Moore Regional Hospital 1,950
CaroMont Regional Medical Center 1,950
Granville Health System 975
Betsy Johnson Hospital 975
Haywood Regional Medical Center 975
Margaret R Pardee Memorial Hospital (Henderson County Hospital Corporation) 975
Hugh Chatham Memorial Hospital 975
Iredell Health System 975
Johnston Health Services Corporation d.b.a. Johnston Health 1,950
MH Mission Health, LLLP 2,925
Nash UNC Health Care 975
New Hanover Regional Medical Center 2,925
Novant Health Presbyterian Medical Center 2,925
Novant Health Forsyth Medical Center 2,925
Novant Health Brunswick Medical Center 975
Onslow Memorial Hospital, Inc. 975
Randolph Hospital, Inc DBA Randolph Health 975
Rex Hospital, Inc 2,925
Rutherford Regional Health System, Duke LifePoint 975
Southeastern Regional Medical Center 975
CMC Enterprise (Atrium Health) 2,925
Atrium Health Cabarrus (The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Hospital Authority) 1,950
Atrium Health Pineville (The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Hospital Authority) 1,950
Atrium Health Union (The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Hospital Authority) 1,950
Atrium Health Cleveland (The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Hospital Authority) 975
Atrium Health Lincoln (The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Hospital Authority) 975
Atrium Health Mercy, a facility of Carolinas Medical Center (The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Hospital Authority) 975
Atrium Health University City (The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Hospital Authority) 975
Moses H. Cone Memorial Hospital 2,925
Wesley Long Hospital 1,950
Alamance Regional Medical Center, Inc. 975
UNC Lenoir Health Care 975
UNC Medical Center 2,925
Vidant Medical Center 2,925
Vidant North Hospital 975
Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center 2,925
High Point Medical Center 975
WakeMed Raleigh Campus 2,925
WakeMed Cary Hospital 975
Wayne Memorial Hospital 975

Officials provided notes about the allocation:

  • This is only week 1. Vaccine is expected to arrive in North Carolina during the week of Dec. 14.
  • NC is only allocated 85,800 doses of Pfizer vaccine in Week 1 and they must be shipped in units of 975. Therefore, the state had 88 units.
  • The allocation was based on acute + ICU beds and then a correction factor of both population and number of healthcare workers in the county to account for places with low hospital beds as compared to overall population.
  • Of the 53 initial sites, 11 are the early ship sites. No site will be able to administer vaccine until after final authorization by both FDA and ACIP. After final ACIP authorization, likely within 24-48 hours, the remaining 42 week-one site allocations will ship from the manufacturer.
  • This is just the first week’s allocation. Because of the minimum ship amounts of the Pfizer Vaccine, officials say they prioritized hospitals where the number of healthcare workers were greater. The Moderna vaccine will be distributed in minimum ship amounts of 100 units, allowing officials to further distribute to additional hospitals and local health departments. The goal has been to ensure vaccine is administered rapidly to those at risk of contracting COVID-19 or at risk of severe illness from COVID-19 and minimize the risk of excess supply at any particular provider.
  • Week 2 allocations will allow officials to get vaccine to more locations and every county in NC.
  • In week 2, officials say they are expecting to receive both Pfizer and Moderna vaccine.

More information about the NC COVID-19 Vaccination Plan, including the NCDHHS Interim Update on COVID-19 Vaccine (last updated Dec. 7) and FAQs can be found at https://covid19.ncdhhs.gov/vaccines.

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