COVID-19 vaccinations start in Duplin

Vidant Duplin Lab Manager Daryl Howard was one of the first in Duplin County to receive the COVID-19 vaccine on Friday, Dec. 18.

KENANSVILLE — Front-line healthcare workers at Vidant Duplin Hospital were the first in the county to receive the COVID-19 vaccine on Friday, Dec. 18.

Dr. Chad Kornegay and Dr. Jon Kornegay, who are Vidant Duplin hospitalists as well as brothers — and Vidant Duplin Lab Manager Daryl Howard were the first three Vidant Duplin team members to receive the vaccine.

Hospital and healthcare facility workers will be among the firsts to receive the vaccine, per the recommendations of the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines.

Duplin County Health Department Director Tracey Simmons-Kornegay wasn’t sure as of press time when the public may have access to the vaccine, but she said that the health department could receive its first shipment of COVID-19 vaccine this week.

“In preparation, we have been in communications with medical and dental practices, home care agencies, retail pharmacies, and funeral homes as well as specific long-term care facilities and the county’s Emergency Medical Services as identified in Phase 1A of the vaccination distribution prioritization framework,” she said. “CVS and Walgreens have agreements to assist with COVID-19 vaccine administration in some long-term care facilities.”

The health department will follow the DHHS’s vaccine distribution prioritization framework. The phases of vaccine distribution, as defined by the N.C. DHHS, are as follows:

Phase 1a

Healthcare workers at high risk for exposure to COVID-19 — doctors, nurses, and all who interact and care for patients with COVID-19, including those who clean areas used by patients, and those giving vaccines to these workers.

• Long-Term Care staff and residents— people in skilled nursing facilities and in adult, family and group homes.

Phase 1b

• Adults with two or more chronic conditions that put them at risk of severe illness as defined by the CDC, including conditions like cancer, COPD, serious heart conditions, sickle cell disease and Type 2 diabetes, among others.

• Adults at high risk of exposure including essential frontline workers (police, food processing, teachers, child care), health care workers, and those living in prisons, homeless shelters, migrant and fishery housing with 2+ chronic conditions.

• Those working in prisons, jails and homeless shelters (no chronic conditions requirement).

Phase 2

Essential frontline workers, healthcare workers, and those living in prisons, homeless shelters or migrant and fishery housing.

• Adults 65+

• Adults under 65 with one chronic condition that puts them at risk of severe illness as defined by the CDC.

Phase 3

College and university students.

• K-12 students when there is an approved vaccine for children.

• Those employed in jobs that are critical to society and at lower risk of exposure.

Phase 4

• Everyone who wants a safe and effective COVID-19 vaccination.

More detailed information about the COVID-19 vaccine is available online at https://files.nc.gov/covid/documents/NC-COVID-19-Vaccine-Plan-with-Executive-Summary.pdf about the priority of vaccine distribution.

Abby Cavenaugh may be reached at acavenaugh@ncweeklies.com or 910-296-0239.