NC Vaccine Strategy North Carolina’s COVID-19 Vaccine Roadmap outlines how our state will vaccinate every person living or working in North Carolina who wants to receive a COVID-19 vaccine. Our route charts where we started, where we are now, and where we are going. It includes actions to: Establish vaccine prioritization groups Earn the trust of North Carolinians Help people find their spot Onboard vaccine providers Embed equity in vaccine operations Manage vaccine allocations Enhance vaccine technology Support vaccine providers Data Transparency Promoting COVID-19 Vaccine Equity in North Carolina (Spanish) reports the share of vaccinations in the past week going to Black/African American, Hispanic/Latinx, and American Indian or Alaskan Native populations as well as key metrics for earning trust, embedding equity in vaccine operations, and promoting accountability through data transparency. The report also highlights best practices to promote equitable access to vaccinations. It will be updated every two weeks. Another tool to help North Carolina reach its goal of vaccinating as many North Carolinians as quickly and fairly as possible is a map that shows census tracts in North Carolina with the highest rates of social vulnerability and the lowest rates of COVID-19 vaccination. Social vulnerability is measured by Social Vulnerability Index (SVI); the higher the score, the higher the social vulnerability. The map also includes the ability to see where COVID-19 vaccine providers and community-based organizations that have offered to support vaccine events are located. Healthier Together Healthier Together, a new public private partnership with the NC Counts Coalition, will help increase the number of individuals from historically marginalized populations that receive COVID-19 vaccinations and provide a foundation for a longer-term framework for health equity. Guiding Principles Everyone is included in North Carolina’s COVID-19 Vaccination Effort Frequently Asked Questions Which chronic conditions put someone at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19, making them a higher priority for vaccination? The CDC defines the chronic medical conditions that put someone at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19. Currently, the list includes asthma (moderate to severe), cancer, cerebrovascular disease or history of stroke, chronic kidney disease, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), cystic fibrosis, diabetes type 1 or 2, serious heart condition (e.g., heart failure, coronary artery disease, cardiomyopathy), hypertension or high blood pressure, immunocompromised state (e.g., weakened immune system from immune deficiencies, HIV, taking chronic steroids or other immune weakening medicines, history of solid organ blood or bone marrow transplant), intellectual and developmental disabilities (including Down Syndrome), liver disease (including hepatitis), neurologic conditions (such as dementia and schizophrenia), pulmonary fibrosis, overweight or obesity, pregnancy, sickle cell disease (not including sickle cell trait) or thalassemia and smoking (current or former). This list of conditions may be updated by the CDC and can be found here. How is North Carolina promoting equity in its vaccination plan? NCDHHS has a specific focus on earning trust with historically marginalized populations and ensuring equitable access to vaccines. Longstanding and continuing racial and ethnic injustices in our health care system contribute to lack of trust in vaccines and poorer access to health care in general. The department is partnering with trusted leaders and organizations to provide accurate information about COVID-19 vaccines to all North Carolinians and ensure equitable access to vaccines. It is the responsibility of all vaccine providers to ensure equitable access to vaccines. This means taking intentional actions to reach and engage historically marginalized communities, such as partnering with providers who serve these communities to make the vaccine more accessible. NCDHHS is embedding racial, ethnic and geographic equity into all aspects of vaccine operations and holding itself and vaccine providers accountable. Our biweekly report, Promoting COVID-19 Vaccine Equity in North Carolina, reports the share of vaccinations going to Black/African American, Hispanic/Latinx, and American Indian or Alaskan Native populations as well as key metrics for earning trust, embedding equity in vaccine operations, and promoting shared accountability through data transparency. The report also highlights best practices to promote equitable access to vaccinations. How will staff and residents in long-term care facilities be vaccinated? From December to April, the federal government managed most vaccinations for staff and residents of long-term care facilities. Long-term care facilities include skilled nursing facilities, adult care homes and continuing care retirement communities. The federal government created the Pharmacy Partnership for Long-Term Care Program with CVS and Walgreens to work with long-term care facilities to give vaccinations, but this program has now finished. Facilities will be able to work with pharmacies and other providers to continue to vaccinate residents and staff. How many vaccines will the state receive? The federal government decides how many COVID-19 vaccines each state gets based on the state’s population of people aged 18 and up. States then request how many vaccines are needed in their state each week. Local vaccine providers request their weekly vaccine allocation from the state. Some providers in North Carolina also receive vaccine doses directly from the federal government, such as partners in the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program or the Health Center COVID-19 Vaccine Program. How will the vaccine be shipped? After vaccine providers request their vaccine allocation, the manufacturer ships the vaccines and vaccination supply kits directly to the local vaccine providers in North Carolina or vaccine providers work together to share vaccines across sites. How will the vaccine be stored? North Carolina is working closely with providers to safely store vaccines, particularly those that need ultra-cold storage or frozen storage. Vaccines that need ultra-cold storage will come with packaging and cooling material for places that do not have permanent ultra-cold storage. These vaccines can also stay refrigerated for a shorter amount of time. The state, the manufacturer and the CDC deliver training on COVID-19 vaccine storage, handling and administration. Are there vaccines that are safe and work in preventing COVID-19? Yes. The currently recommended vaccines have proven to provide significant protection against COVID-19 and protect against virus-related hospitalization and death, with no serious safety concerns in the clinical trials. Who makes sure the vaccines are safe and can prevent COVID-19? The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) makes sure all food and drugs are safe. The COVID-19 vaccines must pass clinical trials like other drugs and vaccines. The FDA checks the data and authorizes vaccines only if they are safe and effective. Because vaccines are given to millions of healthy people to prevent serious diseases, they’re held to very high safety standards. The FDA can get vaccines to people faster through an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA). After the FDA has authorized a vaccine, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) independent advisory committee reviews the data before advising the CDC on recommending a vaccine for use among the general public. Like all vaccines, the FDA keeps checking safety through the Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System (VAERS). Health care providers are required to report serious side effects, or if someone gets seriously ill with COVID-19. There is also a smartphone app called v-safe that uses text messaging and web surveys to do health check-ins after people receive a COVID-19 vaccination. People can report any problems they may have with a vaccine through v-safe. What other COVID-19 vaccines are being developed and considered? It is difficult to say when other vaccines will be available. As of March 2021, Phase 3 clinical trials (the last phase) are in progress, being planned or completed in the United States for the following COVID-19 vaccines: AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine Novavax’s COVID-19 vaccine You cannot get COVID-19 from any of these vaccines in development. All of the above vaccines teach your body to make germ-fighting antibodies against the COVID-19 virus. These germ-fighting antibodies are then ready to fight off the real COVID-19 if it ever tries to attack you. How can someone enroll in a clinical trial for a vaccine? Over 100 vaccines for COVID-19 are under development and many are in clinical trials that are recruiting participants. People interested in enrolling in a COVID-19 vaccine trial may visit the following website: https://www.coronaviruspreventionnetwork.org/understanding-clinical-studies/.