First COVID-19 vaccine doses expected to arrive at AppHealthCare next week

Jackie Park, Reporter

AppHealthCare is anticipating the arrival of 1,000 doses of a COVID-19 vaccine next week to begin vaccinating residents in Watauga, Ashe and Alleghany counties.

The vaccine, created by American biotechnology company Moderna, will bring 600 doses to Watauga County, 300 to Ashe County and 100 to Alleghany County.

Jennifer Greene, health director for AppHealthCare, says AppHealthCare is “very hopeful and confident” in the vaccine’s ability to slow the spread of COVID-19 in a press release Friday.

Like in other states, the vaccine will be distributed across North Carolina in phases, prioritizing people at highest risk, like health care workers and those living in long-term care facilities and group homes. Right now, the state is working through “Phase 1a” according to the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services.

“We are working closely with local and state partners as we prepare to offer the vaccine to those who are eligible in this first phase,” Greene said. “Even though we are hopeful about the vaccine, we must continue to practice prevention measures like the 3Ws and wear a face covering, wash your hands and wait 6 feet from others. These prevention measures will help slow the spread and protect local hospital capacity.”

Many long-term care facilities in the area signed on to partnerships with pharmacies like CVS and Walgreens to distribute the vaccine when it became available, according to the release. AppHealthCare will assist facilities that did not sign up for national partnerships in vaccinating their residents.

Vaccinations are set to begin early next week, depending on when the shipment of doses arrives.

AppHealthCare will offer COVID testing only on Dec. 21 next week due to the distribution.

On Friday evening, the FDA officially authorized Moderna’s vaccine for use, according to NPR.