This email went to all faculty and staff at Duke, including Duke Health

Dear Faculty and Staff Members,

We are writing to provide an update on the deployment of the COVID-19 vaccine.

The COVID-19 vaccine continues to be in very short supply in North Carolina and nationwide. While there are indications that the national stockpile may increase over the next several weeks and months, the current reality is that no provider in the state is able to meet the demand with the available supply. Duke, along with other hospitals and public health agencies, continues to work with the state government to advocate for increased production and distribution.

As you know, the State of North Carolina, following CDC guidelines, is solely responsible for the determining the availability of vaccines. Duke does not own or control any vaccines; rather, we are stewards on behalf of the state and must abide by regulatory guidelines for determining which of our employees are eligible to receive vaccinations from Duke Health. That process began last month with Group 1 (frontline healthcare workers) and now includes Group 2 (those 65 years of age and older) based on the N. C. Department of Health and Human Services’ (DHHS) priority distribution plan for the COVID-19 vaccine. Duke Health has provided the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine to about 18,700 employees, and over 12,000 of them have now received their second dose. 

There are, however, approximately 14,000 Duke employees remaining in Group 1 and Group 2 who have not yet received the first dose of the vaccine. In addition, there are more than 50,000 Group 2-eligible individuals in the local community who are on the waiting list for a vaccination from Duke Health. Based on the inventory Duke Health is receiving from the state, we expect that process will take several weeks to complete. 

Once all those in Group 1 and Group 2 who want to take the vaccine have received it, Duke Health will be permitted to move to Group 3 (Frontline Essential Workers). The state has indicated that eligible job categories for Group 3 include college and university instructors and support staff, food workers, custodians, clergy, law enforcement and security officers, and transit workers, among others. In addition, the criteria specify that those eligible to be vaccinated in Group 3 must be required to be physically present in the workplace to perform their job responsibilities and be in close contact with others on a regular basis as a part of their responsibilities. We continue to seek clarification from the state on these criteria. 

Once clarification is obtained, the COVID-Vaccination Planning Work Group will work to determine which employees are included in Group 3. Duke Employee Occupational Health and Wellness will send eligible individuals a direct email invitation after the state authorizes the scheduling of vaccination appointments. At this time we do not know when that authorization will be given and will keep you updated as information becomes available.

In the meantime, note that the state is also distributing the vaccine for the general public through other hospitals, county health departments, and mass vaccination sites. Duke employees who are eligible are not required to be vaccinated through Duke Health and may pursue vaccination through other available programs as well.

Regardless of your vaccination status, it remains critical to continue adherence to public health measures, including wearing a mask, maintaining six feet of distance from others, avoiding gatherings with people you do not live with, and washing your hands regularly. These safeguards apply even if you have been vaccinated already. We are making progress toward ending this pandemic, but we can only do this by working together as a community. One Duke United. Thank you. 


Kyle Cavanaugh
Vice President, Administration

Carol Epling, MD, MSPH
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 Health

Co-Leaders of the Duke COVID Vaccination Work Group