North Carolina will make COVID-19 vaccines available to anyone age 65 or older, Governor Roy Cooper told county commissioners this morning, according to a breaking news report in The Raleigh News & Observer.
The change in the state’s phased system for distributing the vaccine conforms to a change in federal guidelines announced Tuesday by Alex Azar, U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services—just two hours before the Governor held his latest COVID-19 update briefing in Raleigh.
Governor Cooper expressed frustration at his briefing with the federal government’s shifting advice “on what the priorities of the vaccine should be,” but told reporters he would evaluate the new recommendation with his public-health advisers and make a decision. He has made it.
According to media reports, Mr. Azar said Tuesday that vaccinating everyone age 65 or older would speed up the vaccination process nationwide, which has been lagging. Medical experts believe the acceleration will further the goal of herd immunity to the coronavirus, which many say requires up to 80 percent of the population to be vaccinated.
Mr. Azar also announced that the U.S. government would ship all of the vaccine it currently has on hand, rather than holding back some for the second doses that both the Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna vaccines require.
The Trump Administration’s policy previously had been to withhold vaccine to ensure the availability of second doses, in the event manufacturing problems occurred.
President-elect Joe Biden recently announced that, upon his inauguration, he would order the shipment of all vaccine on-hand, contending, as Mr. Azar did Tuesday, that vaccine production has become reliable enough that second doses could be shipped directly from manufacturers to the states.
To implement this change in the N.C. vaccination system, the county health departments, including Dare County’s Dept. of Health and Human Services, will have to ramp up. But first, the State will have to ramp up its distribution system. We would expect DCDHHS Director Sheila Davies to address how Dare will manage this new directive soon. Stay tuned.
According to today’s N.C. Dept. of Health and Human Services vaccine dashboard, Dare County had vaccinated 1,461 people with first doses and 192 people with first and second doses, as of yesterday at 11:59 p.m.
(Yes, we’re still on break, but we thought this announcement and news yesterday of another Dare County resident’s death due to COVID-19 were worthy of our making exceptions.)
Ann G. Sjoerdsma, 1/14/21