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See the latest news and updates about COVID-19 and its impact on the Charlotte region, the Carolinas and beyond.

NC, SC Submit Coronavirus Vaccine Plans To CDC, Prioritizing Health Care Workers And Nursing Home Residents

Vaccine Shot

North Carolina has released its draft plan for how it will distribute a coronavirus vaccine once one is available. The state’s Department of Health and Human Services submitted its 148-page plan to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Friday.

The plan said that when a vaccine is available, North Carolina will first vaccinate critical health care workers, essential workers like firefighters and emergency managers and people who live or work in nursing homes.

The state also said in the plan that it will prioritize people who are likely to be exposed to COVID-19, including migrant farm workers, people in prisons and people in homeless shelters.

DHHS said it will likely set up vaccination clinics at local health departments or onsite at specific facilities.

"Leaders from across sectors came together under tight timelines to collaboratively develop a vaccine plan that leads with equity and prioritizes building trust,” DHHS Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen said in a press release. “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.”

South Carolina also submitted its COVID-19 interim vaccination plan in a 42-page document to the CDC on Friday — the deadline the federal health agency gave all U.S. states.

“Safety is the top priority in any vaccine development and no vaccine will be released until it has undergone the rigorous scientific and clinical testing that’s required as part of all vaccine development,” Dr. Linda Bell, South Carolina State Epidemiologist, said in a press release. “Scientists had already begun research for coronavirus vaccines during previous outbreaks caused by related coronaviruses, and that earlier research provided a head start for rapid development of vaccines to protect against infection with the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV2, the virus that causes COVID-19.”

South Carolina’s plan said the state may prioritize, among others, healthcare workers, emergency and law enforcement personnel, teachers and school staff, in the event that a limited number of COVID-19 vaccines are available.

The state said in its submission that it “recently surveyed statewide healthcare providers to engage interest in providing COVID-19 vaccines.” It said 310 out of 387 providers said they would be interested in participating in the vaccination program.

Several COVID-19 vaccines are in large-scale clinical trials. It’s not yet clear when one could become available.

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