PITTSBORO, N.C. (WTVD) -- Governor Roy Cooper on Thursday vowed to prioritize "speed and equity" in how the state distributes and administers COVID-19 vaccines.
"The vaccine is still in short supply, but we are working to ensure that all North Carolinians have a spot to get their shot," Cooper said at his visit to Piedmont Health SeniorCare in Pittsboro. "Because there's so little vaccine, we've seen a mad scramble to find places and oftentimes people with time, resources, internet access are more successful in getting a place to get a vaccine. I think it's important underserved communities where people don't have access to those things we make sure the vaccine is distributed equitably."
Cooper also complimented Piedmont's work in vaccinating its patients - a majority of whom are Black, African American and Hispanic.
"There are systemic issues in communities of color that cause skepticism," Cooper said. "People often in underserved communities are even more vulnerable to this virus as many people live in crowded conditions where it's easier to transmit the virus. Many work in frontline jobs where it's easier to contract the virus and dealing with systemic health issues that are already there before where people of color are more greatly affected."
According to state officials, the state has administered 99.8 percent of the first doses received as of January 27, 2021. This week, providers across the state are receiving shipments from the state's allotment of 120,000 vaccine doses. On Monday, President Joe Biden announced that the federal government will increase vaccine shipments to states by 16 percent over the next three weeks to speed up the vaccination process nationwide.
The addition means North Carolina's capacity will rise to 140,000 shots a week.
"Community health centers are the lifeline to health care for thousands of rural and underserved communities," NC Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen said. "They've been frontline partners in providing testing throughout the pandemic and are an important part of the state's strategy to ensure marginalized residents have access to COVID-19 vaccines."