NC reshuffles vaccine priority list
State health and safety officials provide a Jan. 14, 2021, update on the coronavirus outbreak in North Carolina and the state's response to it.
of Emergency Management. Mike Spray Berry. Monica McGee is our American sign language interpreter, and Jackie and Jasmine Motive Your are Spanish interpreters as faras today's numbers. As of this morning, there were 9853 new cases reported today. 3990 people are currently hospitals hospitalized right now across North Carolina, and sadly, there have been 7825 deaths. We continue to accelerate vaccinations across the state. In the past seven days, hospitals and local health departments have increased the number of vaccinations given by 133% compared to the seven days before that. Today, we reported that providers have given 326,198 vaccinations that 326,198 vaccinations. But remember, there's also data lag and total vaccinations allocated to our state include 160,000 for our long term care facilities, as well as vaccines that were allocated to our state for the week but have not actually yet been received by our vaccine providers. We will continue to offer support to our local health departments and hospitals to get shots in arms faster. On Tuesday, the governor shared that in the coming week we will have large community vaccination events in 13 counties and as of today, that's expanded to be in 23 counties spanning the entire state, from the mountains to the coast. Partners were selected based on their ability to administer a large number of vaccine doses or to provide access to vaccines to marginalized communities. I want to thank emergency management and the National Guard for their support in these efforts. Additionally, today, Honeywell Atrium Health, Tepper Sports and Entertainment, who owned the Panthers and the Charlotte Motor Speedway, announced a unique public private partnership to support the goal of one million Cove in 19 vaccinations by July 4th of 2021. They plan to vaccinate as many people as quickly and efficiently as possible with a focused on our underserved communities. Governor Cooper is committed to partnering with businesses and healthcare providers to get vaccines in people's arms as quickly and as equitably as possible. Because the supply of vaccine is limited, we have prioritized vaccinating people who are at the highest risk of being hospitalized or dying and those at highest risk for exposure. Starting today. To align with the new federal priorities and to facilitate speed of vaccinations, vaccine providers that are ready Thio can expand to now vaccinate all health care workers and anyone who is 65 years and older. We continue to move through our vaccination groups, giving local providers the flexibility to move to the next priority group as they complete the previous ones and have vaccine available. So to reiterate, providers can now vaccinate all health care workers and those ages 65 over. Next will be our frontline essential workers, followed by adults with high risk of exposure and increased risk of serious illness. And then any North Carolinians. We know that counties are in various stages as they deal with new cases and vaccinations. These factors, along with limited supply, means that many folks will have to wait before vaccine is available for them. We're working hard to ensure that North Carolinians are informed about the importance of getting vaccinated. Understandably, many people still have concerns. It can be hard to know what is true and what could be trusted. We are here to provide you with the honest, factual information about vaccines. First, there are currently only to co vid 19 vaccines. Everyone who gets the Pfizer vaccine no matter race, ethnicity and age, gender, they all get the same vaccine. This is the same thing. That's true for the Moderna vaccine. Scientists had a head start in developing the vaccines. The vaccines use a method that researchers have been studying and working with for decades. All vaccines are tested for safety and effectiveness before they're authorized. More than 70,000 people volunteered in clinical trials for the vaccines to make sure they were safe and worked to Prevent Cove in 19. Results from those research trials showed that the vaccines are 95% effective in preventing COVE in 19. There were no serious safety concerns noted in those clinical trials. You may have temporary reactions like a sore arm headache or feeling tired and achey for a day or two. After receiving the vaccine, you cannot get co vid 19 from the vaccine vaccines. Use M R N A. To give the cells in your body the instructions to make a protein that safely teaches your body how to make antibodies to fight the Rial Cove in 19. Your body destroys that marina and gets rid of it. It doesn't stay, nor does it alter any DNA in your body. The only other ingredients in the vaccine are salt, sugar and fat. The vaccines do not contain eggs, preservatives, fetal tissue, stem cells, mercury, microchips or any other ingredients. There are no data that show vaccines negatively impact your ability to get pregnant in the future. You won't be fully immune to Cove in 19 until 1 to 2 weeks after your second vaccine. Vaccines are the best way to end this pandemic and save lives. It will take time for everyone who wants Cove in 19 a cove in 19 vaccination to get one on. I encourage everyone to go to your spot, your shot and see dot gov to get accurate information about Cove in 19 vaccine development, testing, safety and reactions. It's your spot for reliable information now. I've spent most of my time this afternoon talking about vaccines, but unfortunately we know supplies are still very limited. Today. We face the immediate and dangerous situation of extremely high numbers of people having covert here in North Carolina and record numbers of people in the hospital. The percent of tests that were positive are triple of that where we want to be. And there is a new and much more contagious variant of co vid 19 in our country. My directive remains in place. Stay home Onley. Leave home for essential activities like work school or to meet health care needs. If you must leave home or be with other people who you don't live with, where a mask all the time. Stay at least 6 ft apart and wash your hands often keep doing those three W's so we can slow this virus down while we get everyone a spot to get their shot. With that, I will turn it over to director Mike Spear very for a few more marks. Thank you, Madam Secretary, and thank you for your continued outstanding leadership. Good after every everybody, today is day 311 of the state emergency response team activation for the Cove in 19 response. Before I begin my update, the State Emergency Response team gives ah hardy and heartfelt thank you to our local partners who are making it happen with their grit, expertise and strong partnership. The Health Department's emergency management agencies piece APS, health care organizations, firefighters, emergency services, law enforcement and all of the other disciplines that air tirelessly working each and every day to protect all North Carolinians. We know that you have been in the trenches from the very beginning, fighting relentlessly to mitigate the spread of this virus. Please know that we appreciate you so much and are here to support you. The first National Guard team supporting vaccination sites began work this week. So far, 24 National Guard personnel are on scene assisting album or regional health services and the Forsyth County Health Department, with plans for over 250 to be at work across the state by the end of next week. We have new requests from counties for vaccination support coming in every day. Keep them coming. This support is being provided with a mix of National Guard soldiers and airman. Some are health care workers like medics or nurses who are giving vaccinations, others air assisting with administrative tasks like vaccine data entry or with logistic support. I want to note that the other National Guard members air continuing to provide vital support the food banks and rapid covert testing sites across the state. We're also coordinating volunteers who can support vaccination sites. Statewide organizations like our outstanding Civil Air Patrol and community emergency response teams are already lending a hand. If you would like to register as a volunteer to help it vaccination sites or medical facilities, there is a website set up for that visit terms dot N, c e m dot or GTA. That's T E R M s terms dot n. C e m dot org's. You will go into a pool of volunteers to be screened, and if approved, you could be called them toe assist at the vaccination site or medical facility in your area. I want to note that the National Guard support for Cove in 19 is separate from the mobilization that Governor Cooper announced yesterday with 550 additional members activated to support security operations here in North Carolina and in our nation's capital related to the inaugural events. 350 of these troops will be on duty beginning this weekend in North Carolina and 200 or headed to the National Capital Region, where they will join national guard elements from other states and providing law enforcement support enclosing, Let's encourage everyone to get the vaccine. When your turn comes, it's safe and it's free. I'm sure looking forward to getting the shot. When my turn comes, you have a spot. So take your shot with viral spread critical levels. It's more important now than ever to observe the three W's where a face covering Wait at least 6 ft apart and wash your hands often. That's where weight and wash and is always. Don't forget to look out for your family, friends and neighbors to call your loved ones daily. With kindness and cooperation. We'll all get through this together is one team, one mission and one family. Thank you, Madam Secretary. Thank you, director. And with that, we will take your questions. The first question today is from Will Michael's with W N C. Radio. Hi, Dr Cohen. Uh, well, Michael's A W U N C Thanks for taking my question. Um, does the state intends to follow the recent guidance from the Trump administration, not toe hold back second doses of the vaccine. Well, thanks for that question. So we're still awaiting exact details from the federal government about how they're going to be doing the release. Are they just releasing second doses? There's also, um a, uh some additional doses that they were holding back in case anything happened related to shipping our manufacturing. So we're chill still trying to understand exactly what is being released and when. What I want to make sure for our vaccinating providers is that they know that that second dose is going to be there so that they don't hold back on given first doses. Um, what we've heard from a number of providers as we've done our work to understand what might be holding them back from getting all the vaccine out the door. Some were reporting back to us to say, You know, I'm holding this for a second dose, and we had to sort of clarify Hey, how here's how second doses we're gonna come to U. S. So we wanna make sure we're understanding that process from the federal government to the state and then to our vaccine providers, because we don't want anything that will hold up having our vaccine providers feel like they can get out as many of those first doses as they can so that they have that second does guaranteed to be there, Um, when they need it. So we're working through those details and still need to understand some of that from the federal government. Thanks. You have a follow up from, Well, Michael's W N C. Thank you for that, Dr Cohen. The other question I had was about direct caregivers of older adults. Do they fall into this category of health care workers or and if not, which phase of the vaccination do they fall into? Well, I'll have to follow up with you to see whether or not they follow fall into the category of direct health care workers. So let us follow up with you on that. The next question is from Tina Terry, the WSOC TV. Charlotte. Good afternoon, Dr Cohen. Thank you so much for doing this. Can you please share Mawr information about the new high throughput vaccination sites, particularly the one operated by Atrium Health in the Charlotte area? Will it operate as a drive through vaccination clinic? Um, and how will you provide medical staff at the sites? I know that's been a problem just in general finding medical staff to deal with vaccinations as well as, um, possible ization. Also, is this new public private partnership involving atrium health part off that high throughput vaccination plan? Or is it something different when I worked backwards from your questions? So I'll start with the announcement Bay. That was a partnership between Honeywell Atrium Health, um, Tepper Entertainment and the Charlotte Motor Speedway is a new and separate edition. Um, Thio what we were already working through, which is some of these community based high throughput sites. Eso we're excited to have new private partner, private public partnership coming together in the Charlotte area. And you know, there's others. Um, that Aaron discussion for other parts of the state s. Oh, that is a new partnership. I know. They're still working through the details and the logistics. Is it gonna be drive through? How is that staff and gonna work? Um, but I think that's why that partnership is fantastic. I know, honey. Well, they work, um, on on logistics. Atrium has the clinical support. So I think that and and then our folks in the Panthers organization and Charlotte Motor Speedway have space, right? So I think that's the kinds of partnerships that we love to see coming together for those high throughput sites that I mentioned that are now going to be in 23 counties across the state. Those were being handled in a number of different ways. Some of them are being supported directly by some of our our health care providers. There are hospitals, um, directly, Um, and you heard director spray Berry talk about. Some of them are getting supported by the the National Guard. So it's a mix of ways in which staffing is going to be supported. Sometimes is from the health system or the local health department. Sometimes it's volunteer. Sometimes it's our national guard, Andi. It's going to take that whole approach Onda. We're going to need to use different approaches in different places in the state to make sure that we can have vaccine access points across our state that allow us to also get to that level of speed that we want. That is certainly top of mind that sense of urgency of wanting to get shots into arms quickly, eh? So we're grateful to all the many partners who are working in those 23 counties to get those high throughput sites. That's in addition to our hospitals and health departments that continued to do the work that they've been doing over the last number of weak. Some of them have what? I would also consider high throughput sites they're doing drive through vaccination sites or, um, larger events. So I think you're each community is tailoring to the needs of what they see. Uh, there on the ground as well as what they have available in terms of space and staff and other. We're just trying to partner with them and support them with whatever needs that they have. Thanks. Follow up from Tina Terry of the USOC. Thank you, Dr Colin. One more question. Can you explain where the vaccine is coming from toe operate these new throughput site, high throughput sites? Is this coming from a surplus that the state has? I think some counties are concerned that the vaccine that could go to them will be sent to these new mass vaccination site. Please provide clarity there. So when the federal government does its allocation to our state every week and then we at the state decide in turn, where should we ship that vaccine Thio. And so we have data to help us understand how much vaccine is across our state and in, uh, in the hands of our vaccine partners. And what we've been doing over the last week is trying to understand, um, if folks are are out of vaccine, which we can see in the data or if they still have vaccine, uh, sitting there on the shelf and how can we support them and getting that vaccine out as quickly as possible? So this next week of allocation and these higher throughput events came about because there are some who still have vaccine sitting on the shelf that they're working to get through so they don't need new vaccine this week. We're able to take that, um, that vaccine that may have gone to them in the past couple of weeks were able to use that and concentrate it in some of these higher throughput sites. Um, we are asking all of our providers to give us very specific plans about how they're going to be able to get any vaccine. We give them out in seven days, right. We get shipments every seven days or so on we wanna make sure that the shipments were getting in are gonna be able to get out into arms within those seven days. And that's what we're working with our providers asking them. How are they going to do that? How can we support them in being successful? We know some of them still have vaccine that is there, and we wanna make sure over the next seven days to get it out for the that that additional vaccine that we have. Um, we're putting it in those high throughput sites again. Those who are able toe thio articulate to us that they can, um, can scale up activities to get that vaccine out in the next seven days. Next question is from Jonah Kaplan with ABC 11 that afternoon. Dr Cohen and Director Spray Berry. I'll concede that this is kind of a simple question. Um, if I'm over 65 I'm watching this now, I learned I think we'll get the vaccine. What do I do next? What do I do now? Who do I call? Where do I go? Thanks very much. Thanks, Jonah. Well, the first thing I would say is you can look on our website. Your spot, your shot dot n c dot gov. On that website, you'll see a list of vaccine providers by county. It'll list either local health departments or hospital systems, and it will also indicate thes high throughput community based vaccination sites. Then we'd encourage you to either call or get in touch with those vaccine providers in your area. You don't need to feel limited to those that air in your county. Um, but it may be someone, something that is close to your home that you're able Thio, uh, Thio Dr Teoh and and And Access. So I would go thio your spot, your shot dot n c dot gov that will give you the list of those vaccine providers as well as phone phone calls. Sometimes they have online systems. Um, that they're using for vaccine again. That would be indicated there. Or you can call their main number and and find out what their processes as well. Thanks. Follow up from Jonah Kaplan, ABC, 11. Okay, I appreciate that, Dr Cohen. My next question is what would it take for a vaccine clinic toe happen at a place like Jordan Marina or at PNC arena or some of these other large scale places like the Rally Convention Center. We're seeing these happen in other states across the country. You just talk briefly about public private partnership with the Charlotte Motor Speedway. So what needs to happen before we get into some of these bigger venues instead of just ah, hospital or health clinic? Thanks. Thanks, Jonah. That's exactly the kinds of conversations we're having now to bring together those partners. Both the space, the clinical expertise and staff and then the logistical support s. So I think we're working through that. I was, you know, I was so appreciative of of the partnership that came together in the Charlotte area. I think we'll see that in other places around the state. I know that that folks are in conversations in a number of ways. I do want to remind folks, though, that vaccine supply is limited. So when you think about high throughput events, remember, we're getting only about 120,000 new doses every week. Our goal is to get all of those doses out every week, and we certainly have ah, bit of ground to make up here. Um, but When you think about those large scale events, we still have very limited vaccine. So it's not going to be something that can can run 24 24 7. We just don't have that amount of vaccine. So we're figuring out what is that appropriate scale? Where should those locations B. How can we think about equity and accessing? Um, making sure there's access points for are underserved communities. All those things are going into discussions we're having, and we're very appreciative of all of the folks who are stepping up to the plate. Thio, help us execute this really, really important. Uh, this important goal of getting getting all North Carolinians vaccinated. Thanks. Next question is from Adam Wagner with the News and Observer. Yeah. Hi, Secretary Con. Thank you for taking my question. Um, I guess to start just a point of clarification on the 45,000 doses are those coming from next week's allocation or they redistributed from this week and then also with the high school put site. It is the timing on that coincidental with the C. D. C. S announcement that they could be reallocating vaccine if they think about or is this part of an effort. Do you really kind of get up to speed where North Carolina will be seen? Same amount of vaccine moving forward. Thanks, Adam. I think we've all shared a sense of urgency of wanting to get vaccine into arms as quickly as possible. So this was already work that's been underway, Um, And to bring together the logistics, the clinical and the actual space to make make sure that these kinds of things happen A Sfar, the 45,000 that you mentioned. That was what was arriving either yesterday or today about that, that amount of vaccine. That's what we were talking about, Um, for going into the weekend and through the next week. Now we're working on the next allocation. We always move into that next allocation and are asking our providers, What else could you do beyond what you're doing already on? How can we scale up? So those conversations are ongoing? Um, and we will continue to work to make sure that we are, Aziz said, getting the vaccine that we have here in our state out into arms as quickly as possible. Thanks, comma. Next question is from Caroline Hicks with WBTV in Charlotte. Hi. Thank you for taking my question. Um, I wanted to ask what will be the challenges? And how will these different health departments and hospitals ramp up their efforts for this additional group of people 65 older? Um, how are you going to make sure that they're getting the allotment they need? Are the allotments going to be increasing for everyone? Or how is this gonna work to meet the demand of this new group of people? Well, thanks, Caroline. There's a couple of things I break it down to. How do we use the vaccine we already have in the state and use it efficiently and quickly. And then how are we thinking about the new vaccine that's coming to us? Going forward? So in terms of helping folks get the vaccine that they have now out and quickly as possible is a number of ways your director spray berry talk about the married ways of which were helping with staffing support thio either hospitals or a local health department to really help. Whether it's back office, help on data entry, answering phones, setting up vaccine events, doing crowd control, um, or doing the vaccinations themselves. So we're trying to offer whatever help they may need on. We're talking to every single site because every single site has slightly different needs and, uh uh, that we could help with. And so we're trying Thio do that individually. Some sites aren't able to get the vaccine out in. What we're doing is trying to partner them with other places that are able to get it out quickly. So if they they report back to us, you to say, Look, we know we have vaccine here. We're not gonna be able to get it out in the next seven days. Let's partner, right? So that's all the work we're trying to do to get make sure that vaccine that is already here in the state gets out really quickly, Then the question is, how do we use the vaccine that comes to us once a week and use that process to drive some of this speed and efficiency? And that's where some of these higher throughput sites come from. But remember, it's a limited pool of vaccine that comes to us. Eso If we take vaccine and put it in these high throughput, it does mean that there will be less, um, in places that maybe less efficient and less, uh, speedy at getting out the vaccine. We are focused on speed, but we're also focused on that equity and access piece. So we are trying to be intentional about thinking about locations for these high throughput sites. So we still maintain that geographic, um, distribution of vaccine as well as focus on our historically marginalized populations. Now, North Carolina, when we first were allocating vaccine, we were very intentional about getting it to every single county in North Carolina. All 100 counties equal balance of doses across all the state. So there were access points everywhere. I think as we focus and, um, learn about how we can improve speed, I think we're doing a mix of getting to that geographic continued geographic distribution as well as thes high throughput sites. Eso That's what we're focused on going forward again as we work to get the vaccine we have already in the state out and then focus on what we can do with the new vaccine coming to us. Thank you. Follow up from Caroline Hicks Wbtv in Mecklenburg County Hospitals, health departments have said that they could not give the vaccine to more people than they're giving right now. Right now, the demand is higher than the allotment. So can they expect more of an allotment to handle this larger population center? They just looking at booking out appointments further out. It's a really important message. We have less vaccine in our state than the number of people who are eligible to get it. That at this moment for those who are 65 years and older, you could get vaccine starting now. But that doesn't mean vaccine is available for you today or an appointment is available for you today. I think you just heard about the Mecklenburg area where they are going to be said, setting up additional sites with additional vaccinators, which means additional appointments so they're going to beam or that come online. But at the end of the day, there's a limited supply of vaccine and is going to take us some time to get everyone, uh, their spot in line to get their shot. We also want to remind folks that that, um that you know that as things are are limited right now, we want folks toe work quickly. Um, in our with with our partners, there are partners that's still have vaccine available, and we want to help them get it out within the next seven days. So if they need more, vaccinators were willing to help them with that. If they need data entry, whatever they need to get the vaccine that they do have out certain places have gotten all their vaccine out and are working incredibly quickly and efficiently. Other places need need our support, and that's what we're hoping to provide. Mhm Next question is from Brian Anderson with Associated Press Hi, Dr Cohen. Brian Anderson, who at the a p uh, I know this in the website. There's no mention of college students in the new guidance today, and they appear to be delisted. Are college students no longer prioritized for vaccination over the general public and the new plan and how many, if any, covert vaccine doses have been thrown away in the garbage can here in North Carolina due to spoilage? So on our prioritization, Brian, we know we incorporated the feedback we got just two days ago from the federal government, but it was still focused on those key priorities, um, that we've had all along, which is to vaccinate those who are at highest risk for, um, severe outcomes from co vid. So certainly that is our older population and those with, um as well as those at higher risk of exposure. Um, and that's still what you see in a prioritization. But we also wanted to focus on simplicity and speed. We know that there's been more confusion that there there's need to there needs to be. And so we are definitely hearing the message about simplicity and speed. Um and so that's why we're trying to really be clear. What we're vaccinating right now are folks who are health all health care workers and those above the age 65 older. Um, S O Those are the folks who are getting vaccinated now. Next will move on to our frontline essential workers. Then, as I said, we'll move on to adults with other adults with mawr, uh, severe more risk of severe illness, as well as those other workers with more exposure and then everyone else in the population. I think the second question was about about spoilage. Now we we haven't heard of, uh, any sites that have had, um, issues where they have defrosted or left out of the freezer vaccinations. But we continue to reiterate the message that we don't want to see any vaccine wasted. And this is the kind of flexibility that our local providers need. Yes, we have a prioritization. Um, uh, that we want folks to follow, but at the end of the day, we don't want vaccine to go to waste at all. We know that they're these vaccines are life saving, and we want every single dose to be used. Follow up from Brian Anderson with a P just to make sure I'm understanding correctly are are college students no longer prioritized over the general public? I know the previous plan had them in phase three and then the general public and face for, but now it looks like there's no mention of college students, so I just wanted toe get, uh, put a pin on that and make sure I'm clear on what the plan is for them, Brian. And in this, um, updated prioritization, we are trying for simplicity and to really focus on the additional guidance we got from from the federal government just a couple of days ago. So we are prioritizing those who are at highest risk of severe illness. Those who are at highest risk from an exposure perspective and really try to get to some, um, simplicity there. So yes, that's right. We've we've simplified. Next question is from Colleen quickly with W N C N T v. Hey, good afternoon, Dr Cohen. Thank you for taking my question. We're hearing from multiple counties that they're having issues with that CBMs system logging onto it and then also entering the numbers. They're afraid that's affecting their future allocations and then also showing the administer Let's vaccine than they actually have. Are you aware of this issue and is anything being done to address it? Thanks for that. We are hearing that folks are having some data entry issues, obviously by the fact that we've logged more than 300,000 doses so that the underlying system works. But we recognize that it takes effort to put the data into the system, and that means people and time, and that's what we want to be here to help with. So we have offered Thio to folks who are doing these vaccination efforts. If we can help with data entry, we want to do that because we don't want folks toe have their allocation, um, suffer because they can't get the data into our system. But the data in our system is how we need to make decisions about things going forward. We have heard about a couple of folks who are a bit behind on data, and we're making sure not toe have that impact, their future allocations because again, we're focused on just getting vaccines into arms. Um, but that capturing of the data is really important because it's really our tool to have visibility, to know what's happening on the ground. We wanna assist them. So if folks need help with data entry, we have ability to support them, either to get folks to, ah, location to help with data entry or even Thio centralize that data entry here at the state level. So we want to support them. And if there are any issues related to see via master questions, we have all day office hours, lots of ability for folks. Thio get in touch with us to to ask questions to make sure we're continuing to improve. Um, that underlying system itself. It's one of the reasons we wanted to have that system here in North Carolina, so we can continue to make improvements to it. Um, as we, you know, improve things over time. Okay? Follow up from Colleen quickly. W N c n. Thank you. And one more question. I know you said there are discussions ongoing right now about more of these large scale sites and the private partnership. Can you say if any of those conversations are happening for, uh, partnership in the triangle? I think conversations like that are happening across the state. And including in the triangle. Yes. The next question is from Richard Craver with the Winston Salem Journal. Hello. Uh, Secretary, this is Richard Craig with Winston Salem Journal. Uh, just wanted to clarify. I'm sure you've already answered the question. We just want to clarify, first of all, that there's not gonna be a phase 23 and four anymore. When you mentioned that everyone will be available after what seems to be the final group of one B. And then I've been asked specifically to ask about, um where the teachers fit in in terms of, um, the priority list now that if everyone's gonna be getting it, uh, I guess what would now be faced too, Richard, Thanks for that. So, as you know, we did get additional guidance just two days ago from the federal government. We incorporated that guidance, and I think you know, there, there, uh, continued advice to us was simplicity and speed, and we we agree with, That s so we are making sure that our prioritization is very clear right now. Right now, anyone, our our vaccine providers can move forward to vaccinate any one who is 65 older or all of our health care workers. So that's the group. That's that's going right Now, Just to be clear, if you are 65 older or you are a health care worker, it is your It is your time. However, remember that not every place has additional, um, appointments. Right now, they're still working through their folks who are above the age of 75 s. So it doesn't mean that today you could go and get your shot. It does mean that providers can move on to that if they're already we know that providers are in different, different stages. We didn't wanna hold anyone back at the state level and again, That's why we're tryingto give this this guidance today to say, if you if you can and and want to run forward with the group that is 65 years and older, Um, and all health care workers, that's terrific. You can do that. Next would be our frontline essential workers. And that's what Richard, where teachers would fit into that group. Those air folks who can't stay home. Um, in order to conduct their their job there with our our kids in the classrooms eso they'd be considered frontline essential workers, as with our police, childcare workers and and others. Thank you. Follow up from Richard Craver, Winston Salem Journal. Um, secretary along that same line, when you're talking about extending, um, what is a limited supply vaccine? How does that going to affect your long term care facility? Because I know ah, considerable amount airfares going through Walgreens and CVS, but it sounds like a pretty decent amount of the long term care facilities are still being help to buy county health department. So does this have the situation of some kind of different priorities or increasing the bottleneck with such a limited supply of vaccine. So the long term care vaccination effort, as you know Richard, is being handled by our federal government through a partnership with CVS and Walgreens. In order for the state to activate that program, we were required to allocate a certain number of vaccines to that program. To date, we have allocated 160,000 doses of vaccine to that program, and CVS and Walgreens are using that allocation to work through and vaccinate all of the folks in our nursing homes, the residents and the staff as well as other long term care settings. We know, however, that not every single long term care setting signed up for that program. Nearly all did, which is great, and they're going to be working through that program, but not all, which is where our local health departments come through. Additionally, we know there's also turnover at those places. Some folks are entering nursing homes and leaving um at different points, and so we know that we're going to have to go back and make sure that we're using other resource is that air here at the state level to help folks make sure that they're getting vaccinated. They'll continue to get prioritized as they are, some of our most vulnerable, Um, as well as a setting where there is a high risk of exposure. Eso will continue with those efforts. We'll take our final question today from Laura Lee with Carolina Public Press. Okay. Thank you. Good afternoon, Dr Cohen. I just want to clarify, um, the decision making process moving from group to group. So your individual health department have discretion, Those in terms of moving from what was one A the health care worker group to the 75 older group. But now it sounds like potentially they could say, we're sticking with 75 older, and we're holding off on 65 older, even though that is under the state new guidance, the next group. So I guess the question is just you know, do these health health directors have the discretion and how will they know when they have completed? You know, they've had enough people in that group to move to the next stage. Thanks, Laura. We are giving flexibility to our vaccine providers. We want to make sure that they aren't held back by the state and that they can run forward in terms of speed, right? So we know that we also share that sense of urgency to get get folks vaccinated. So there are some providers we were already hearing from That said, We want to move on to the next group. We incorporated that federal guidance that next group includes those that are aged 65 above. Eso those that are ready can do that. But there is discretion at the local level to say, Look, we we have booked out appointments for a number of weeks for those that are over 75. Andi, they may be able to start taking appointments for 65 65 up, you know, a few weeks down down the road. That may be where they are. Um, so we're trying to give them the flexibility to do that. Um, we know that that providers are a different point, so I think that flexibility is important so that they can can have the speed that they that they need if they want it at the local level. Follow up with me. Um, it's along the same lines about moving to connect phases of distribution. Um, so what I'm hearing is that healthcare our providers will be able to determine when it's time to move to frontline essential workers. And then when it's time to move to the next group, which has subgroups, um, will the providers be encouraged or required in the subgroups? I'm talking about people with medical conditions, incarcerated individuals and those essential workers not yet vaccinated to go in that order or has this new plan now, um, sort of made all of that one large group that helped providers can determine we're moving until that phase with all three of these groups. Thanks for that, Laura. We are trying to simplify how we're both talking about it and for operations on the ground. We got feedback from our providers to say, help us with simplicity and how we communicate this, um and so we definitely took that feedback into the simplified way in which we're moving forward. That's why we're focused on all health care workers and those 65 up, trying to be very, very simple about it. Um and so folks know exactly where we are. We are still wanting to follow prioritization because the supplies are so limited. So we are focused on just that group right now, before we move on to the other frontline essential workers, but and and we will signal at the state when when we think will be moving through those other groups. But we did very much Laura simplify that, um, for so we can communicate it more easily. And also to ease some of the operational, um, complexity at the local level Again, we're trying for simplicity and speed. Um, as we go through this as well as a focus on equity, um, and that's what we'll continue to do. We want to get that vaccine out as quickly as possible. But I want to just say again, Um, please remember that our our supplies are very limited. Even the progress we're making, we're going to get ah, lot of vaccine in arms over the next two weeks. Even if we vaccinated everyone today with the vaccine we have in the state and we would still be at somewhere like 6% of our entire population, which means we have to do the work we've done all year long. Which is where a mask stay socially distant and wash your hands often. That secretarial directive is still in place. Please do stay home and Onley go out for essential business. Remember, there is a lot of virus here in North Carolina. Please, please protect yourselves Your family and your communities Stay well, everyone. Thank you. Yeah.