How to Get the COVID-19 Vaccine in North Carolina

Posted on 05/14/21 by Emily Paulin

Virus Outbreak Vaccine North Carolina

En español | Who can get vaccinated now?

  • Anyone 12 and older

Where can I get vaccinated?

  • Local vaccination sites, including county health departments, hospitals, health centers, pharmacies and large-scale community events. Use the state’s Find a Vaccine Location tool, searchable by zip code or current location, to find a vaccination site. The tool lists the names, addresses, phone numbers and websites of providers. Contact providers directly to confirm vaccine availability and whether an appointment is required.
  • The federal government’s vaccines website, Vaccines.gov, lets you search for vaccination sites by zip code, with links to appointments. You can use the same tool by texting your zip code to 438829 to find vaccine sites. 
  • Certain retail pharmacies, including CVS, Walgreens, Walmart and Harris Teeter have created online COVID-19 vaccine pages where you can search for appointments across multiple vaccination sites. Many of these sites are included in the state’s Find a Vaccine Location map, too. Some locations are taking walk-ins, no appointment necessary.
  • A federal mass vaccination site is operating at the Four Seasons Town Center in Greensboro through May 27. Try to schedule an indoor appointment or a drive-thru appointment online or via the state’s COVID help center at 888-675-4567. 
  • Through your employer or living facility. Most North Carolinians who were prioritized for a vaccination because of their job, such as a health care worker, or where they live, such as a nursing home resident, may be able to get vaccinated through their workplaces or where they reside. Check with your employer or residence before scheduling a vaccination appointment.
  • The state’s COVID help center at 888-675-4567 can help those who need assistance scheduling an appointment.
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AARP recommends that you ask your doctor about the safety, effectiveness, benefits and risks of the coronavirus vaccine. Older adults, especially those with underlying medical conditions, are at increased risk for hospitalization and death from COVID-19.

What should I bring to my vaccination appointment?

Some vaccination sites ask for proof of identity or eligibility. Officials recommend that you bring a driver’s license or other state-issued ID that shows your name, age and state residency, and your health insurance card, if you have one. You will not be charged, but the vaccine provider may bill your insurer a fee for administering the vaccine.

If you are prioritized because of an underlying medical condition or based on your work, you may need a note from your doctor, a pay stub or badge, or some other form of proof. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says to wear a mask at your appointment. 

How will residents of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities get vaccinated?

Most residents and staff of long-term care facilities in North Carolina are being vaccinated through a federal program that contracted with CVS and Walgreens to administer COVID-19 vaccines via free on-site clinics. Apart from a very small number of outstanding clinics, the program is complete.

To ensure long-term care facilities still have access to COVID-19 vaccines — for new residents or staff, or for residents and staff who were initially hesitant to receive the shots — the federal government is continuing to allocate vaccines to pharmacies partnered with long-term care facilities.

Which vaccines require a second shot? 

The COVID-19 vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna require two doses. If you get one of these, you’ll need a follow-up dose to be effectively immunized. The recommended second-shot date is three weeks after a first dose of the Pfizer vaccine and four weeks for Moderna’s, but the CDC says an interval of up to six weeks is acceptable. You should get a card from your provider stating when and where to return for the second dose. The state is tracking vaccinations via a secure data system, called the COVID-19 Vaccine Management System, which will send email reminders for second doses, too.

Johnson & Johnson's vaccine requires just one shot. Federal officials warn that the vaccine has been connected with rare, severe blood clots in a small number of recipients, especially in women age 50 years and younger.

It’s not yet known how long immunity from a coronavirus vaccine lasts and whether it needs to be administered on a regular basis like a flu shot.

Do I have to pay for the vaccination?

You should not have any out-of-pocket cost for getting the vaccine. AARP fought to make sure the federal government is covering the cost of the vaccine itself. Providers can recoup a fee for administering the shot, but not from consumers. They would be reimbursed by the patient’s insurance company or the government (in the case of Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries and the uninsured, for example).

Scammers are purporting to offer COVID vaccines and treatments and trying to charge for them. AARP's Fraud Watch Network is tracking the latest scams.

What should I do with my vaccine card? 

You should get a small white card at your vaccination appointment with your name, birth date, name of the vaccine you received and the date it was administered. If you receive the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, bring your card when you get your second shot.  

You may need your vaccine card for certain kinds of travel or other activities, so keep it in a safe place. You can take a photo of it with your smartphone for your own records. Experts say that posting a photo of your card to social media could make you vulnerable to identity theft. If you lose your card or did not receive one, contact your vaccine provider or your local health department to get a copy. 

When will kids be able to get vaccinated? 

Pfizer’s vaccine is authorized for those age 12 and older; the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines are authorized for those 18 and older. Both Pfizer and Moderna are researching how their vaccines work in children as young as 6 months. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has said he expects that all kids will likely be eligible by early next year. 

Should I still wear a mask after getting vaccinated?   

It takes two weeks to build immunity after the single-dose shot and after the second dose of the two-dose shots. After that, the CDC says, fully vaccinated people can gather indoors and outdoors without wearing a mask or staying 6 feet apart, except where required by state and federal law and local business and workplace requirements.

The CDC recommends continuing to wear a mask on planes, buses and trains and other shared transport while traveling into, within or out of the United States, and while at transportation hubs like airports and stations.

Helpful Resources 

  • North Carolina’s local transit agencies are helping people get to and from their COVID-19 vaccination appointments. Call or visit the website of your local transit agency for assistance. 

This guide, originally published Dec. 18, was updated May 14 with the latest guidance from the CDC on mask wearing and social distancing for the fully vaccinated.

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Also of Interest 

This story is provided by AARP North Carolina. Visit the AARP North Carolina page for more news, events, and programs affecting retirement, health care, and more.

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Find information about getting a COVID-19 vaccine in your state. CDC information is available at cdc.gov/coronavirus; additional AARP information and resources are at aarp.org/coronavirus. En español, visite aarp.org/elcoronavirus.

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