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Charlotte Doctor Receives First Shot As Initial Doses Of COVID-19 Vaccine Arrive In NC

Atrium Health

Updated 3:59 pm.

A Charlotte doctor on Monday became the first person in North Carolina to receive a COVID-19 vaccine, according to Atrium Health. In a video posted to Twitter, the hospital system's Medical Director of Infection Prevention, Dr. Katie Passaretti, said she was the first to get the shot.

"I couldn't be more excited. I feel perfectly fine. I've had no issues with the vaccine," Passaretti said in the video.

An Atrium spokesperson said the hospital system expected to vaccinate a total of about 15 people on Monday.

"Our goal is to quickly ramp up and vaccinate as many people as we can, as quickly as we can," said said Dr. Gary Little, the chief medical officer of Atrium's metro division.

The first doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine arrived in North Carolina on Monday morning and Atrium was among the first hospital systems in the state to receive vaccine doses. According to Little, Atrium received just "a small portion" of the shipment it expected. Little and a spokesperson for Atrium declined to provide specific numbers. State health officials estimated last week that North Carolina would initially receive about 85,800 doses of the vaccine.

“It’s a limited supply for now, but this is a remarkable achievement for science and health,” Gov. Roy Cooper wrote on Twitter Monday morning.

Novant Health in Charlotte and Catawba Valley Medical Center in Hickory are also expected to receive vaccines as early as Monday. They will begin by vaccinating their health care workers who are at the highest risk of exposure to COVID-19, like those who care for patients hospitalized with the disease.

“It all starts with health care workers that are working directly with folks who have COVID-19,” Dr. Mandy Cohen, the state’s health and human services secretary, said at a press conference on Thursday. “It’s either the clinical staff, the cleaning staff--anyone that’s coming into contact with folks who have this virus.”

The state’s vaccine distribution plan also prioritizes residents and workers in long-term facilities like nursing homes. Cohen estimated last week that vaccinating the state’s health care workers along with its long-term care workers and residents would likely last into January. After that, she said the state will start vaccinating adults who have two or more chronic conditions and frontline workers.

The Pfizer vaccine requires two shots. North Carolina State Pharmacist Dr. Amanda Fuller Moore, who’s managing the state’s vaccine distribution, said on Thursday that the initial shipment of doses will be used as first doses and that the federal government will send the second doses in two weeks.

“We can look in our online systems that show us our allocations...and we see that those second doses are there in line. So we feel confident that every two weeks we will be receiving the follow-up doses,” Moore said.

At least five hospital systems in North Carolina have said they will not initially make the COVID-19 mandatory for employees: Atrium Health, Novant Health, Duke Health, UNC Health and Wake Forest Baptist.

“Our goal is to educate and inform our team members around the benefits and the safety of the vaccine and let them make an informed decision around whether to receive it,” Becky Bean, senior vice president and chief pharmacy officer at Novant, said in an interview with WFAE earlier this month.

Employers can make vaccines mandatory for employees, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, but can also allow them to request medical or religious exemptions.

Claire Donnelly is WFAE's health reporter. She previously worked at NPR member station KGOU in Oklahoma and also interned at WBEZ in Chicago and WAMU in Washington, D.C. She holds a master's degree in journalism from Northwestern University and attended college at the University of Virginia, where she majored in Comparative Literature and Spanish. Claire is originally from Richmond, Virginia. Reach her at cdonnelly@wfae.org or on Twitter @donnellyclairee.