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Health
Coronavirus news and updates about the Charlotte region, the Carolinas and beyond.

North Carolina To Get 85,000 Initial Pfizer COVID-19 Vaccine Doses

Roy Cooper and Mandy Cohen
North Carolina Department of Public Safety
Gov. Roy Cooper watches as Health Secretary Mandy Cohen speaks during a press conference Tuesday.

RALEIGH — North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper announced on Tuesday that the state will soon receive about 85,000 doses of Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine from the federal government.

His health secretary, Dr. Mandy Cohen, said she anticipates the federal government will provide the first allotment as early as Dec. 15, with additional doses being distributed to states on a weekly basis.

Hospital workers will be the first to receive the vaccine in North Carolina, according to Cooper and Cohen. Other health care workers and nursing home residents will be next in line. Residents who self-report at least two serious underlying health issues will be prioritized next.

“Health care workers, people in long-term care and those at risk for severe illness will come first," Cooper said in a news conference. “But when it's my turn to get this vaccine, I'll be ready to roll up my sleeve.”

The Food and Drug Administration has scheduled a Dec. 10 meeting to discuss Pfizer's request for emergency use authorization for its vaccine, which must then be administered in two doses scheduled three weeks apart from one another. The vaccine must be stored at the below-freezing temperature of -94 degrees Fahrenheit.

“Our state is preparing to receive the Pfizer vaccine that requires ultra-cold storage,” Cooper said. “Health care providers with these capabilities have been identified across North Carolina. We're a big state though, with rural areas stretching for hundreds of miles. Every person is important, and we'll work hard to overcome the challenges that our geography presents.”

Cooper said 84,800 vaccines are on the horizon, which will be used to immunize 42,400 people. There are roughly 10.5 million North Carolina residents. He said everybody in the state will be able to receive a free vaccine, regardless of whether they have health insurance.

North Carolina on Tuesday reported its highest count of COVID-19 hospitalizations, with more than 2,000 patients currently hospitalized. The state announced that its percent of tests coming back positive eclipsed 10% on Sunday, which is far ahead of the state's goal of a positivity rate below 5%. Testing has sizably decreased in the last seven days. Nearly 2,900 positive tests were reported on Tuesday.

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Follow Anderson on Twitter at https://twitter.com/BryanRAnderson.

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Anderson is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues.