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First shipment of Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines arrives in Charlotte

Atrium Health was one of 11 health care providers in North Carolina to receive the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine, 277 days after the first case of COVID-19 in Charlotte.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The first shipments of the much-anticipated COVID-19 vaccine arrived at Atrium Health in Charlotte, North Carolina Monday morning. 

The first batch of Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine arrived at Atrium Health's Carolinas Medical Center shortly after 11 a.m. Gov. Roy Cooper tweeted North Carolina received its first shipment of vaccines around 9:30 a.m. at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem. 

"The first doses of COVID-19 vaccine have arrived in North Carolina," Cooper tweeted. "It's a limited supply for now, but this is a remarkable achievement for science and health. We all need to keep wearing a mask and acting responsibly while we get as many people vaccinated as fast as we can."

Dr. Katie Passaretti, the director of infection prevention at Atrium Health, was the first person in North Carolina to receive the Pfizer vaccine, according to Atrium Health. 

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"I feel perfectly fine," Passaretti said. "Just a moment of cold, a moment of, like potential for change of the course that we're on with the pandemic right now. I couldn't be more excited, I feel perfectly fine, I have no issues with the vaccine. Again, we just encourage everyone to get vaccinated."

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North Carolina health officials reported 4,770 new COVID-19 cases Monday. Hospitalizations continue to be at a record peak with 2,553 people in North Carolina hospitals due to the virus.

On Thursday, an FDA advisory board met to discuss emergency authorization of the Pfizer vaccine. It was then distributed to 11 hospital groups in North Carolina beginning Monday. 

Health care workers at high risk of COVID-19 and people working in long-term care facilities are at the top of the state’s priority list for vaccines, but Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen said hospitals will decide who is vaccinated first.

RELATED: US set for first COVID-19 shots as shipments begin arriving

A second phase of vaccinations will include front-line workers, school staff and those who are over the age of 65 or are considered high risk. 

Once those populations are vaccinated, phase three will launch, covering all essential workers and students.

And finally phase four, which will include the remaining population, an estimated 3.6 million to 4 million people.

Experts say the vaccine won't be readily available to the general public until the second quarter of 2021, but Dr. Cohen urges everyone to get the vaccine as soon as it is available to them. 

RELATED: Here's how and when the COVID-19 vaccine will be distributed in the Carolinas

A recent Gallup poll found fifty-eight percent of Americans said they would get a COVID-19 vaccine, up from a low of 50% in September. Many of the participants cited possible side effects as concerns. 

Doctors have said side effects of the COVID-19 vaccine could include chills and muscle aches or possibly a fever from the second does.  Headaches and tenderness at the injection site are also possible.  

RELATED: Frequently asked questions about the COVID-19 vaccines

This is a developing story. Follow WCNC Charlotte for updates on the vaccine's arrival throughout the day.