Local Hospitals Prepare for First COVID Vaccine Arrival

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – As North Carolina sees record daily COVID cases and hospitalizations, we’re learning which hospitals across the state will receive the vaccine first.

11 in North Carolina will get an advance shipment including Atrium Health’s Carolinas Medical Center.

It will get the vaccine early, because it has the ultra cold storage units needed for the Pfizer vaccine.

It still can’t administer those vaccines until there’s FDA approval, which is expected later this week.

Officials with Atrium still don’t know how many doses they could receive, but behind the scenes the hospital is working on logistics and deciding which front line workers get the vaccine first.

“It’s all about risk, right? It’s all about the risk of the people who are caring for potential individuals who have COVID and what their contacts are,” explains Dr. Christine Turley, with Atrium Health.

After those working directly with COVID patients, ER and intensive care unit staff, and those who treat respiratory problems could be next in line.

“It is a scarce resource and so that there’s really a lot of detailed planning going in to think through what are the relative risks of all those team members,” Turley says.

Along with CMC, other local hospitals getting advance shipments include Caldwell Memorial Hospital and Catawba Valley Medical Center.

Several more, including Novant Health, will get shipments 24 to 48 hours after FDA approval.

The initial shipment, only expected to go to frontline workers.

Next in line, those living in long-term care facilities, perhaps early next year.

And then, adults with two or more chronic conditions that put the at high risk for serious illness.

“We’re sort of limited in the volume we have available, so I would anticipate it being months before we have sort of a large enough community impact to provide protection to our community,” explains Dr. Lewis McCurdy, with Atrium Health.