Gov. Cooper mobilizes N.C. National Guard to help with COVID-19 vaccine distribution

Gov. Cooper mobilizes N.C. National Guard to help with COVID-19 vaccine distribution
Roy Cooper wins reelection as North Carolina governor (Source: AP)

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - Gov. Roy Cooper mobilized the North Carolina National Guard to provide support as COVID-19 vaccinations get underway across the state, saying ensuring vaccines are administered quickly is “top priority.”

Cooper made the announcement Tuesday. “We will use all resources and personnel needed,” Cooper tweeted.

Monday, Jan. 5, North Carolina moved into Phase 1b, Group 1 of vaccinations, which includes residents who are 75 years and older.

North Carolina health officials say distribution will be broken down into phases, one through four, and groups. Anyone who wants to get a vaccine will be able to do so in Phase 4, NCDHHS Secretary Mandy Cohen said. The vaccination plan aligns with new federal recommendations.

Phase 1a was the first to get underway across North Carolina, which includes healthcare workers working directly with COVID-19 patients.

Below are the phases and groups provided by NCDHHS.

Phase 1a:

  • Health care workers caring for and working directly with patients with COVID-19, including staff responsible for cleaning and maintenance in those areas
  • Health care workers administering vaccine
  • Long-term care staff and residents—people in skilled nursing facilities and in adult, family and group homes.

Phase 1b:

  • Group 1: Anyone 75 years or older, regardless of health status or living situation
  • Group 2: Health care workers and frontline essential workers 50 years or older. The CDC defines frontline essential workers as first responders (e.g., firefighters and police officers), corrections officers, food and agricultural workers, U.S. Postal Service workers, manufacturing workers, grocery store workers, public transit workers, and those who work in the education sector (teachers and support staff members) as well as child care workers.
  • Group 3: Health care workers and frontline essential workers of any age

Phase 2: Adults at high risk for exposure and at increased risk of severe illness.

Vaccinations will happen by group in the following order:

  • Group 1: Anyone 65-74 years old, regardless of health status or living situation
  • Group 2: Anyone 16-64 years old with high-risk medical conditions that increase risk of severe disease from COVID such as cancer, COPD, serious heart conditions, sickle cell disease, Type 2 diabetes, among others, regardless of living situation
  • Group 3: Anyone who is incarcerated or living in other close group living settings who is not already vaccinated due to age, medical condition or job function.
  • Group 4: Essential workers not yet vaccinated. The CDC defines these as workers in transportation and logistics, water and wastewater, food service, shelter and housing (e.g., construction), finance (e.g., bank tellers), information technology and communications, energy, legal, media, and public safety (e.g., engineers), and public health workers.

Phase 3: Students

  • College and university students
  • K-12 students age 16 and over. Younger children will only be vaccinated when the vaccine is approved for them.

Phase 4: Everyone who wants a safe and effective COVID-19 vaccination.

Mecklenburg County’s main county clinic was set up at Bojangles’ Coliseum off East Independence Boulevard in Charlotte, where vaccinations will take place 6 days a week. This clinic started on Monday, Jan. 4 for people in the state’s Phase 1a, which included long-term care residents and staff, as well as select healthcare workers.

Appointments for those in Phase 1b, Group 1 are being made online or by phone. That process started at 8 a.m. Tuesday, Jan. 5. This group includes anyone ages 75 or older, regardless of health status or living situation.

The appointments start at 8:30 a.m. Wednesday, Jan. 6 and must be made in advance.

To make an appointment online, visit mecknc.gov/COVID-19 or booknow.appointment-plus.com/83g1hcpv.

Phone appointments may be made by calling 980-314-9400 and selecting Option 3. Staff will attempt to return any messages left within 24-48 business hours.

Mecklenburg County says they are seeing a high amount of call volume and ask residents to remain patient.

Mecklenburg County Public Health Director Gibbie Harris says they had a team of the National Guard assigned in October. The team initially helped with testing but now are assisting in the process of vaccinating.

“They’ve been extremely helpful in the process with us,” Harris said. It has freed our staff up to do other things.”

HAPPENING NOW: Mecklenburg County health leaders provide COVID-19 update hours after vaccination registration opened in the county for those 75+ https://bit.ly/35fcRqq Watch live 👇

Posted by WBTV News on Tuesday, January 5, 2021

The COVID-19 vaccine is available in limited supply, with availability increasing through 2021 as supplies increase. Each vaccine requires two shots. The interval between doses for the Pfizer vaccine is 21 days; for Moderna, the interval is 28 days.

Instructions for the second dose will be provided after the first dose.

Following some confusion about the availability timeline, Mecklenburg County Health Public Health Director Gibbie Harris hosted a virtual Q&A session.

Mecklenburg County officials says during appointments, they will verify that residents have an appointment and will be verifying residents’ name and date of birth. “But we do not require any specific form of ID,” county officials say.

No walk-ins will be accepted at this time. Valid identification showing proof of age will be required.

Click here for information on COVID-19 vaccination clinics in the WBTV viewing area.

Below is a map from NCDHHS, showing the amount of North Carolina residents by county who have received the first dose of the coronavirus vaccine.

South Carolina counties are looking to begin Phase 1b in late winter.

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