Cooper Calls In National Guard To Pick Up Vaccine Rollout

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Gov. Roy Cooper announced Tuesday that he’s calling in the North Carolina National Guard to help accelerate COVID-19 vaccinations in a state that’s been near the bottom of states in doses administered so far.

Cooper said ensuring vaccines are given to individuals “is our top priority right now.”

“We will use all resources and personnel needed. I’ve mobilized the NC National Guard to provide support to local health providers as we continue to increase the pace of vaccinations,” Cooper said in a tweet. Dozens of states also are getting vaccine assistance from their guard units.

Nearly 108,000 people in North Carolina had received their first dose as of Tuesday morning, according to data from the state Department of Health and Human Services, while almost 500 people had received a second dose.

The first-does total is less than 1% of the state’s population. And data as of Monday accumulated by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ranked North Carolina as sixth worse among the states in per capita first-dose vaccinations.

Hospital workers were the first in line to receive doses and some remain unvaccinated due to limited supply. Several counties will soon begin administering doses to elderly people 75 years or older.

Although North Carolina health officials have been slow to get doses of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines into residents’ arms, there are similar problems in other states.

Federal health officials had hoped that 20 million doses would be shipped and distributed by the end of December, but they fell short of that. The CDC said Tuesday that more than 17 million doses had been distributed, and 4.8 million people had received a first dose.