More than 200,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine distributed in North Carolina

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North Carolina will distribute hundreds of thousands of doses of COVID-19 vaccines this week to hospitals and local health departments, Gov. Roy Cooper said Tuesday.

The state expects to receive about 60,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine and 176,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine. The Moderna vaccine will be sent to 59 hospitals and 97 local health department sites. The Pfizer doses will be held in cold storage until they are administered.

Health care workers and long-term care residents are at the front of the line for the first phase of vaccinations. Cooper said the response from health care workers has been positive.

“We were told yesterday at Duke Health that the most common side effect of the vaccine they are seeing is joy,” Cooper said during a news briefing Tuesday. “That is a good kind of contagious.”

Despite the promise of immunity through vaccines, Cooper and health officials warned against traveling and mass gathering ahead of the holidays. The state has seen critical or significant community spread in 92 of its 100 counties.

“We owe it to those health care workers to double down on our prevention efforts like wearing a mask,” Cooper said.

North Carolinians are mandated to wear masks , even in their own homes when around non-household members. The state also is in a modified stay-at-home order that requires residents to follow a 10 p.m. curfew or be penalized with a fine.

Cooper was joined Tuesday by faith leaders who urged followers to abandon congregational traditions for safer practices such as virtual services.

Rev. James White of Christ Our King Community Church in Raleigh said his church would hold virtual service for the first time on Christmas Eve.

“Pastors, rabbis and other faith leaders are often expected to have words of hope. Maybe we are all appropriately lost for words. What is most needed are actions and perspectives that will lead to life now and in the future,” White said. “Perhaps we all need to figure out how to create celebrations in the midst of limitations. This is not as impossible as it may sound.”

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