Cape Fear area health departments prepare for arrival of COVID-19 vaccine

The Moderna vaccine is on its way to NC

SOUTHEASTERN NORTH CAROLINA (WECT) - With the Food and Drug Administration and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention giving the green light, the COVID-19 vaccine produced by Moderna, Inc. is on its way to North Carolina.

But unlike the Pfizer-BioNTech iteration, the vaccine doesn’t have to be stored at ultra-cold temperatures, and because it is shipped in packages of 100 instead of 975, the doses are headed to local health departments and pharmacies, rather than hospitals.

The Moderna vaccine works the same way the Pfizer version does—it uses the virus’ RNA, but not actual virus, to train the body’s immune system to fight off a COVID-19 infection.

It is also 94.5% effective, and was announced as ‘in the works’ in January 2020.

The state anticipates around 175,000 doses of the vaccine to arrive statewide by the end of the calendar year, but they will still be distributed according to Phase 1-A, which dictates healthcare workers with greatest risk of virus exposure and those patients with the most adverse risk factors go first.

For county health departments, this largely means prioritizing first responders, including emergency medical personnel, firefighters, police officers, and others who may come into contact with COVID-positive individuals.

Columbus County received 200 doses Monday, and has plans to be up and running implementing them by Wednesday.

Pender County expects 600 doses of the Moderna vaccine to arrive sometime Tuesday, with New Hanover and Brunswick counties anticipating their shipments to also arrive sometime this week.

In Pender, vaccines could begin as soon as Wednesday for those personnel who have decided they want it before the Christmas holiday. Otherwise, shots will start going in arms on Dec. 30.

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