COVID-19 vaccine to reach all 100 of NC’s counties by late next week

North Carolina

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – The Moderna version of the COVID-19 vaccine is expected to roll out next week.

Because that vaccine is easier to handle, much of it will go to rural North Carolina.

This comes as the FDA says the Moderna version is highly effective at 94 percent, which is similar to the Pfizer vaccine.

Outside experts will offer their recommendation Thursday. 

The Pfizer vaccine requires ultra cold storage or refills of dry ice as well as additional work by the pharmacist to dilute it.

North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen says that makes it more suited for urban areas with Moderna a better fit for the rural parts of the state.

“It is more related to that underlying logistic,” she said. “So the Moderna vaccines are packaged in smaller units so it can go to more places. The Pfizer vaccine, they pack nearly a thousand together and so if you are thinking about getting that out to as many places it doesn’t give you as much flexibility.”

Cohen says if all goes to plan, they should have some level of the vaccine in all 100 counties by the end of next week. 

That includes as many as 175,000 doses of Moderna.

The first vaccination as part of Plan 1a will go to frontline health care workers and those people in long-term care.

As more doses arrive, Plan 1b includes adults at the highest risk of severe illness and those at the highest risk for exposure.

Phase 2 includes adults at high risk for exposure and at increased risk of severe illness.

Phase 3 includes students and critical industry workers.

Phase 4 includes everyone else.

Health officials expect the total rollout to take as long as six months so they are telling everyone to continue all safety protocols.

That includes social distancing, hand washing and mask wearing.

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