CHARLOTTE, N.C. — It was a historic day in the fight against COVID-19 as the first vaccines arrived in Charlotte, North Carolina and they're already being administered.
Atrium Health was the first hospital in the state to administer the vaccine -- the first doses go to health care workers at high risk of exposure to the virus.
North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper called it a "remarkable achievement for science and health" on social media Monday and reminded everyone to keep wearing a mask as they get as many people vaccinated as fast as they can.
Atrium Health started vaccinating people not long after the shipments arrived Monday morning. The first person in North Carolina to get it was Dr. Katie Passaretti, an infectious disease specialist with Atrium Health.
“I just got my first COVID vaccine,” Dr. Passaretti said. “I feel perfectly fine. I’ve had no issues with the vaccine.”
As of 2:30 p.m., Atrium Health said five employees had been vaccinated. Dr. Gary Little, who’s been organizing the distribution for Atrium, said the shipments arrived about an hour early.
“Things went off without a hitch, they are now in our freezers,” said Dr. Little. “We processed a few people this morning just to get used to the thawing of the vaccine.”
WCNC Charlotte first reported Atrium Health was among 11 medical providers in the state to get early shipments from Pfizer because they have ultra-cold storage space for the vaccines.
Caldwell Memorial Hospital, which is also on the list, plans to vaccinate staff on Wednesday, a spokesman said.
Dozens of other hospitals will receive their first week of allocations in the coming days. The number of doses per hospital range from 975 to more than 2,900 based on bed capacity, health care workers, and county population.
“We have enough capacity to store upwards of 300,000 doses of the vaccine,” Dr. Little said.
Front-line health care workers are the first to have access to the vaccine in North Carolina, and hospital employees can now enroll to receive it.
“Just a moment of hope, like [the] potential for change of the course we are on with the pandemic right now,” said Dr. Passaretti. “We just encourage everyone to consider getting vaccinated.”
South Carolina state officials did not provide a list for early shipments, citing security concerns.