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Jan 12 2021

From the President: Doing your part to protect patients against COVID-19

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Photo of Venkata Jonnalagadda, MD, NCMB President
NCMB President Venkata Jonnalagadda, MD
As you know, COVID-19 vaccination is now underway in North Carolina. The North Carolina Medical Board fully supports our state’s goal of getting as many people who want the vaccine inoculated as quickly as possible.

As the vaccination campaign progresses, private medical practices will have an important role in helping to ensure that all patients who want the COVID-19 vaccine have access to it. This will be especially true in rural and underserved areas of North Carolina, where patients may feel most comfortable getting vaccinated by a trusted physician or advanced practice provider (APP). Please consider registering as a COVID-19 vaccinator. To learn more visit this web page.

My hope with this message is to share with all physicians and APPs the protocols established by the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NC DHHS). These protocols sort state residents into priority groups to make certain those who are most at risk of contracting COVID-19, or who are most vulnerable to the illness, are protected first.

The rollout includes five phases and is expected to continue well into Spring or Summer of this year, after which the COVID-19 vaccine will be available to anyone who wants it (excepting children under the age of 16, for whom the vaccine is not currently approved). An infographic created by NC DHHS that details who is eligible for vaccination in each of the five phases is available here.

For obvious reasons, the state’s COVID-19 vaccination protocol puts frontline healthcare workers– including those providing care to patients with COVID-19, health care workers administering vaccine and staff (and residents) in long term care facilities – first in line for inoculation. This top priority group includes clinicians and medical staff in private practices who see patients with suspected or confirmed COVID-19. If you or members of your medical staff are having trouble getting vaccinated through your local health department or hospital, email covidvac@dhhs.nc.gov. Please understand that available supplies of vaccine are limited at this time. Vaccine will be administered as quickly as possible.

State officials have emphasized that it is imperative for vaccinators to follow the established protocol to guarantee that those most at risk receive protection first.

It should be noted that vaccines are perishable and must be stored under precise conditions, which may require flexibility. There may be circumstances where vaccinators hit challenges and face the real risk of vaccine going to waste. If such a situation arises, contact NC DHHS or your local health department for guidance.

To be prepared to help with North Carolina’s COVID-19 vaccination campaign, I urge you to learn all you can about the rollout. A good place to start is www.yourspotyourshot.nc.gov. This site includes vaccine information that may be helpful for clinicians and patients, including county-by-county information on where to get vaccinated against COVID. NC DHHS has also created numerous flyers, available in English and Spanish, to share vaccine information.

Thank you for all each of you do to support your patients and communities during the ongoing pandemic.

Be well.


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