The COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Plan in North Carolina

Posted on 03/08/21 by Emily Paulin

En español | Who can get vaccinated now?

  • Residents and staff of nursing homes, assisted living facilities, family care homes, mental health group homes, in-patient hospice facilities and other long-term care facilities; and health care workers with in-person patient contact (Group 1)
  • PreK–12 teachers and school staff; childcare workers; restaurant staff; law enforcement officers; and other frontline essential workers (Group 3)
Virus Outbreak Vaccine North Carolina

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. Users should contact providers directly to confirm vaccine availability and secure an appointment.
  • A federal mass vaccination site is set to open at the Four Seasons Town Center in Greensboro on March 10. Try and 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 qualify for a vaccination because of their job, such as a health care worker or teacher, or where they live, such as a nursing home resident, are being vaccinated through their workplaces or where they reside. Check with your employer or residence before scheduling a vaccination appointment.
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  • The state’s COVID help center, at 888-675-4567, operates 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. weekdays and 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekends to help those who need assistance scheduling an appointment.
  • Vaccine supplies are limited everywhere and available only to those now eligible under each state’s phased plan. Most vaccine sites require you to schedule an appointment online or by phone. Appointments can be very hard to get, as available time slots are booked quickly, and you may experience long wait times on the phone. If a time slot is not available, you may be put on the site’s waiting list. Some people are signing up at multiple sites to increase chances of getting an appointment. Once you have a confirmed appointment, public health officials ask that you don’t schedule or confirm another with any other provider so that vaccine appointments stay open for others.

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 eligible because of an underlying medical condition or comorbidity, you may need a note from your doctor or some other form of proof. If you are eligible based on your work, bring proof of employment, such as a pay stub, badge or letter from your employer.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says to wear a mask at your appointment.

Who will be eligible to get vaccinated next?

Group 4 includes anyone ages 16 to 64 with a high-risk medical condition that increases the risk of severe illness from COVID-19, such as cancer, serious heart conditions or type 2 diabetes; essential workers not included in Group 3; and anyone living in close group living settings not already vaccinated.

The state will open vaccination eligibility to people with high-risk medical conditions, people experiencing homelessness, and incarcerated people who have not been vaccinated on March 24. Other essential workers and other people in close group living settings will follow, although a date has not been announced yet.

Group 5 includes all other adults. AARP is fighting for older Americans to be prioritized in getting COVID-19 vaccinations because the science has shown that older people are at higher risk of death.

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 the two-dose COVID-19 vaccines at free on-site clinics. 

Nationally, almost all nursing homes, which were given first priority, have completed their vaccination clinics. Most assisted living and other long-term care facilities are conducting their final clinics. All the vaccination clinics are slated to wrap up by late March.

I’ve heard that some 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.

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.

Should I still wear a mask after getting vaccinated?  

Yes. Experts still need to learn more about the protection the vaccines provide under “real-world conditions,” the CDC says. It could take your body a few weeks to build up immunity after the second dose.

The vaccine is just one tool that can help slow the spread of the coronavirus. The CDC says it could take months for the population to build up immunity and continues to recommend preventive measures such as face masks and social distancing.  

In addition, it’s not yet clear how effective the vaccines are against new, more contagious strains of the coronavirus initially identified in the United Kingdom, South Africa, Brazil and elsewhere, although they would still provide some protection.

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 March 8 with details on how to book an appointment at the Four Seasons Town Center mass vaccination site.

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WATCH: AARP’s CEO on Fighting for Your COVID-19 Vaccination

AARP CEO Jo Ann Jenkins

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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