On December 11, 2020, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued the first emergency use authorization (EUA) for a vaccine for the prevention of COVID-19 in individuals 16 years of age and older. The EUA allows the Phifer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine to be distributed in the United States. Other vaccines to protect people from COVID-19 are currently in large-scale clinical trials to ensure they are safe and effective.
Why are vaccines important?
It is always better to prevent a disease than to treat it after it occurs.
- Over the years, vaccines have prevented countless cases of disease and saved millions of lives. Diseases that used to be common in this country and around the world, including polio, measles, diphtheria, pertussis (whooping cough), rubella (German measles), mumps, tetanus, rotavirus and Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib) can now be prevented by vaccination.
- Getting a vaccine also benefits your loved ones and people in your community by creating “herd immunity.” If enough people are vaccinated, the disease cannot spread as quickly.
- Stopping a pandemic requires all the tools we have available.
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
What is the COVID-19 vaccine, and what does it do?
- The COVID-19 vaccine is a set of two shots provided to a person to give them protection from the coronavirus. COVID-19 vaccination helps protect you by creating an antibody response without having to experience sickness.
- Sometimes after vaccination, the process of building immunity can cause symptoms, such as soreness where you received the injection or fatigue. These symptoms are normal and are a sign that the body is building immunity.
- Source: Understanding How COVID-19 Vaccines Work, CDC
- Vaccine development timeline (North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS)
- NCDHHS Vaccine Info
- Mecklenburg County Public Health
How will recipients of the COVID-19 vaccine be prioritized? (Updated 1/14/21)
The goal is to vaccinate as many people as quickly as possible given the limited supply of vaccines. North Carolina moves through vaccination groups by aligning to federal priorities while empowering local health departments and hospitals with flexibility to move to the next priority group as they complete groups and have vaccines available.
Group 1: Health care workers & Long-Term Care staff and residents
• Health care workers with in-person patient contact
• Long-term care staff and residents—people in skilled nursing facilities, adult care homes and continuing care retirement communities
Group 2: Older adults
• Anyone 65 years or older, regardless of health status or living situation
Group 3: Frontline essential workers
• The CDC defines frontline essential workers as workers who are in sectors essential to the functioning of society and who are at substantially higher risk for exposure to COVID-19
Group 4: Adults at high risk for exposure and increased risk of severe illness
• Anyone 16-64 years old with high-risk medical conditions that increase risk of severe disease from COVID-19 such as cancer, COPD, serious heart conditions, sickle cell disease, Type 2 diabetes, among others, regardless of living situation
• Anyone who is incarcerated or living in other close group living settings who is not already vaccinated due to age, medical condition or job function
• Essential workers not yet vaccinated. The CDC defines these as workers in transportation and logistics, water and wastewater, food service, shelter and housing (e.g., construction), finance (e.g., bank tellers), information technology and communications, energy, legal, media, public safety (e.g., engineers) and public health workers
Group 5: Everyone who wants a safe and effective COVID-19 vaccination
For more information about prioritization, see an expanded explanation of this NC Department of Health and Human Services graphic HERE.
What is the cost of the vaccine?
The COVID-19 vaccine will be available to everyone free of cost, regardless if the recipient has health insurance or not.