Dear Faculty, Staff and Students,
While there is much excitement about the COVID-19 vaccine and the potential to bring an end to this pandemic, we ask for your continued patience as the distribution process will take many months. In the meantime, please continue to mask, socially distance, monitor your symptoms, and use good hand hygiene.
The State of North Carolina has established updated priorities for vaccination based on the CDC guidelines. As part of the initial roll out, more than 20,000 members of the Duke community are included in Phase 1a, including Duke health care workers, university COVID research teams, and other staff members whose roles present a high risk for exposure to COVID-19, such as police officers working in the emergency department. To date, more than 12,000 doses of vaccine have been administered. We are in the process of scheduling appointments for the remainder of this phase, as well as for the second doses of the Pfizer vaccine that must be administered approximately 21 days after the initial dose.
The state has authorized vaccination providers to begin vaccinating the first group of the Phase 1b population, which is limited to those who are 75 years of age or older. This process is underway, and Duke faculty and staff who are 75 years of age or older have been invited to schedule an appointment for vaccination. Duke Health has more than 100,000 patients who meet this criterion as well as many others in the broader community, so it will take time and additional vaccine supply to complete vaccination of this group. Duke Health is not yet scheduling appointments for other groups in Phase 1b, including Group 2 (Health care and frontline workers essential to the COVID response who are 50 years of age or older) and Group 3 (Frontline workers of any age and health care workers of any age, regardless of whether they work directly with COVID-19 patients) as the state has yet to indicate when progression to these groups will be authorized.
Individuals who are not designated in the initial phases – including students, faculty and staff without high risk for exposure or increased risk for severe illness – will likely be eligible to receive vaccinations later in the spring or early summer. For that reason, we urge everyone, including those who have been vaccinated, to continue to wear masks, keep at least 6-feet of distance, wash hands regularly, and avoid gatherings with people who do not live with you.
North Carolina and the nation are seeing the highest levels of COVID infection and hospitalizations since the pandemic first began. While the vaccine offers hope for an end to this pandemic, the speed at which it happens will be directly related to our collective ability to adhere to public safety guidelines that limit the spread of the virus.
Thank you for what you have done and continue to do during this extraordinary time to keep yourself and other members of our community safe. You can find more information about the vaccine, including resources and answers to common questions, please visit the Duke COVID-19 Vaccine website.
Vice President, Administration
Carol Epling, MD, MSPHz
Director, Employee Occupational Health and Wellness
Gail Shulby, RN, MA, CPPS
Chief of Staff to the Executive Vice President, Duke Health
Cameron R. Wolfe, MBBS (Hons), MPH, FIDSA
Associate Professor of Medicine, Infectious Diseases,
Duke HealthCo-Leaders of the Duke COVID Vaccination Work Group