CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services issued a list of 11 health care providers in the state who will receive the first shipments of the COVID-19 vaccines, including Atrium Health in Charlotte.
Two health care providers in the Charlotte area will be among those providers, including Atrium Health of Charlotte and the Catawba Valley Medical Center in Hickory. Caldwell Memorial Hospital in Lenoir is also on the list of providers from NCDHHS.
Atrium Health is among the 11 medical providers in North Carolina to receive early shipments of the COVID 19 vaccines.
“We’re excited to be getting some vaccine,” Dr. Lewis McCurdy, special director of infectious diseases at Atrium Health, said. “I don’t think we’ve been told how many doses we’ll be provided initially.”
North Carolina health care providers who will receive the first shipments of COVID-19 vaccines:
- Bladen Healthcare
- Caldwell Memorial Hospital
- CarolinaEast Medical Center
- Catawba Valley Medical Center
- Cumberland County Hospital System Inc.
- Duke University Health System
- Henderson County Hospital Corporation
- Hoke Healthcare LLC
- The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Hospital Authority (Atrium Health)
- University of North Carolina Shared Services
- Wake Forest Baptist Health
Dr. Mandy Cohen with NCDHHS said last week the state is preparing to receive its first shipments the week of Dec. 14 and, during an interview with CNN, she said hospitals will decide who gets the vaccine first.
WCNC Charlotte asked Atrium Health representatives how they plan to prioritize who gets the vaccine, but they said they’re waiting for further guidance from the CDC advisory committee; the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices or ACIP.
“Trying to get it to our first line workers will be our first goal,” Dr. McCurdy said.
"All sites receiving week-one allocations are hospitals," NCDHHS said. "The 11 facilities receiving advance/early shipments are but a portion of the sites included in the week-one distribution. There are several dozen other sites in addition to the advance/early ship sites. The key difference is that these 11 facilities have sufficient ultra-cold-storage space to get and hold vaccine pending final authorization. No site will be able to administer [the] vaccine until after final FDA authorization and recommendations from the CDC on who the vaccine is appropriate for approval. And for any reason, should the CDC recommendations be delayed, these 11 facilities will have to continue to hold the vaccine."
"After the CDC makes its recommendations, within 24 hours, the remaining week-one sites will receive an allocation of the vaccine shipped from the manufacturer or distributor," NCDHHS went on to explain. "All these doses of vaccine will be to vaccinate health care workers at high risk of exposure to COVID-19 – those who are caring for or cleaning areas used by patients with COVID-19.”
Then the following week, state health officials anticipate Moderna vaccines to arrive; from then on, there are expected to be weekly shipments from both drugmakers.
“The initial supply of vaccines will go to a limited number of hospitals,” Dr. Cohen said.
Healthcare 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.
“I think there are some uncertainties that are still out there,” said Dr. McCurdy.
Novant Health wasn’t on the list for early shipments, but the medical providers say they’ll receive the vaccines 24 to 48 hours after the ACIP makes its recommendations. A spokesperson for Novant released the following statement:
“Novant Health is an approved vaccination administration site and we will receive our allocation 24 to 48 hours after the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) issues its recommendations. While we will not receive early shipment of vaccinations prior to official authorization, it’s important to note that no sites can administer doses until after the FDA approves and these ACIP recommendations are issued. As a member of the North Carolina Vaccine Advisory Team, we continue to work closely with federal, state and county officials on distribution plans, which include a vaccine prioritization framework that reflects our commitment to diversity, inclusion and health equity. “
Meanwhile, in South Carolina, state officials estimate they could receive up to 300,000 vaccines by the end of the year. WCNC Charlotte asked South Carolina health officials for a vaccine distribution list for medical providers, but they said it would be a potential security risk to release it.
Wanda Newby contacted WCNC Charlotte to ask when the vaccine would be available for her mother who receives palliative hospice care, specialized medical care at home with a visiting nurse.
WCNC Charlotte asked NCDHHS about Newby’s question regarding the availability and safety of the vaccine for her mother.
NCDHHS responded with the following statement:
“Once a vaccine is authorized for use, supplies will be very limited at first. Independent federal and state groups of experts determined that the best way to fight COVID-19 is to start first with vaccinations for those most at risk. Therefore, the initial supply of vaccines will go to a limited number of hospitals to vaccinate health care workers at high risk of exposure to COVID-19 – those who are caring for or cleaning areas used by patients with COVID-19. Because of the limited initial vaccine supply, not all hospitals will receive vaccine initially. As more vaccine becomes available, it will be distributed to more of the state’s hospitals and to our local health departments to focus on vaccinating high-risk health care workers. Long-term care staff and residents (for example, nursing homes) will also be in the first group to receive the vaccine. Following these groups will be adults with two more chronic conditions that the CDC has defined as putting them at high risk for serious illness. If the FDA grants Emergency Use Authorization, a CDC committee will review the data and recommendations based on which populations should receive the vaccine.”