As millions of the nation's first COVID-19 vaccines ship out, many central North Carolina hospitals are expected to receive the first batch this week.
On Friday, the Food and Drug Administration authorized the emergency use of the Pfizer-BBioNTech vaccine. On Sunday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention officially allowed Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine to be administered to people ages 16 and older within the United States.
In the first week, hospitals across North Carolina are expected to receive 85,800 doses of the Pfizer vaccine in total. Frontline workers treating COVID-19 patients and healthcare workers in areas at high risk of exposure will receive the vaccine first.
"Fingers crossed, we get it shipped and we can start rolling it out," said Dr. Linda Butler, UNC REX Healthcare Chief Medical Officer.
UNC Rex Healthcare in Raleigh is expecting to receive 2,925 doses in the first week, with vaccinations starting as soon as Tuesday. Combined, UNC Health locations will receive more than 14,000 doses of the vaccine in the first week.
WakeMed Raleigh and Cary hospitals are expected to receive 3,900 doses between the two campuses.
Duke University Hospital is expecting 2,925 doses that will be stored in their ultra-cold freezers with vaccinations starting Tuesday.
The Durham VA Health Care System announced Friday that it is one of 37 VA sites to receive initial doses of the COVID-19 vaccine -- the VA is also North Carolina's only Veterans health care system to receive doses. However, the VA has not specified how many doses it will be receiving.
"We are very excited to provide a vaccine that has the potential to help get COVID-19 under control when used alongside public health measures such as masking, physical distancing and frequent handwashing," said Mr. Paul Crews, Durham VA Health Care System Executive Director.
Cape Fear Valley Health System is slated to receive nearly 5,000 doses in the first week.
Other hospitals on the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) list of receiving the Pfizer vaccine include: Caldwell Memorial Hospital, Granville Health System, Hoke Hospital, Margaret R Pardee Memorial Hospital, Hugh Chatham Memorial Hospital, Johnston Health, Moore Regional Hospital, Nash UNC Health Care, Onslow Memorial Hospital and UNC Lenoir Health Care, Wayne Memorial
The NCDHHS said Week 2 allocations will allow the state to receive vaccines to more locations and every county in North Carolina. During Week 2, the state can also expect to receive both Pfizer and the Moderna vaccine.
Editor's note: An early version of this article said that UNC Health was receiving doses of the vaccine Dec. 14. That has been corrected to reflect that the hospital expects those vaccines the week of Dec. 14.