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County health officials to host Q&A for COVID-19 vaccination distribution Wednesday

By Natalie Anderson
natalie.anderson@salisburypost.com

SALISBURY — With the promise of the COVID-19 vaccination in the near future for a number of North Carolinians, Rowan health officials will host a virtual Q&A session at noon Wednesday to discuss the county’s plans and respond to any questions from the local community about the vaccine.

On Monday, state officials announced that the state received its first shipment of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, which was approved for emergency use by the FDA last week.

“The first doses of COVID-19 vaccine have arrived in North Carolina,” said Gov. Roy Cooper in a tweet Monday. “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.”

Locals can join the meeting via meeting software Zoom at bit.ly/vaccineQA1216, with passcode 121620. Locals can also join via telephone by dialing 213-338 8477, or 602-753-0140, or 720-928-9299, with webinar ID 922-9021-6194 and passcode 121620. Questions can be submitted before the event at surveymonkey.com/r/vaccineQA.

While Rowan County Public Health Director Nina Oliver said on Monday that conversations about supplying county health departments and hospital systems are ongoing with the state, she anticipates Rowan County will receive a shipment next week. Among the first to receive the vaccine, in what’s been categorized as phase 1a and phase 1b, will be health care workers at high risk for exposure to the virus, nurses, hospital cleaning staff, long-term care staff and residents, adults with two or more chronic conditions that put them at risk of severe illness from the virus, adults at high risk of exposure with two or more chronic conditions as well as those working in prisons, jails and homeless shelters.

The state will determine how many vaccinations each county receives based on population and status of community spread. Oliver previously said the state will also provide enough dry ice with the Pfizer vaccine to change out once. The dry ice has to be replaced every five days.

Once Rowan County receives its shipment, it will use the West End Plaza, located at 1935 Jake Alexander Blvd. West, as its point of dispensing site. “Strike teams” with CVS and Walgreens will be responsible for administering the vaccine at long-term care facilities. Health care workers will receive the vaccine via hospital systems.

In the second phase, will be the groups of adults without two or more chronic conditions, education staff, other adults aged 18-64 who have one chronic condition and those aged 65 or older with one or no chronic conditions. North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Mandy Cohen said last week it won’t be until January that the phase two group is able to receive the vaccine.

Phase three will include essential workers not vaccinated in the first two phases along with K-12 and college students. The fourth phase includes everyone else who wishes to be vaccinated.

In addition to the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine that’s been approved, the Moderna vaccine is on the agenda for FDA approval on Thursday. Both vaccines require two doses, with Pfizer’s second dose administered 21 days after the first dose, and Moderna’s second dose administered 28 days later. The second dose must be completed with the same vaccine brand used in the first dose.

North Carolina will use a data system called the COVID-19 Vaccine Management System to track first and second doses. The information will be considered protected health information.

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