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​Public Health Announces Arrival of the Pfizer COVID-19 Vaccine


Public Health Announces Arrival of the Pfizer COVID-19 Vaccine

People In Phase 1a Will Begin to Receive the Vaccine This Week

Mecklenburg County Public Health (MCPH) announced today that the County has received 975 doses of the Pfizer BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine. 

Photos of the vaccine arrival are available here

The first shipment arrived Tuesday at the County's Southeast Health Department location.  Jeanne Williams, BSN, Public Health's Immunization Program Manager, was the first to receive the vaccine. On the first day of vaccination, MCPH administered 20 doses of the vaccine. 

"This is a historic moment for Public Health and I am eager to get our public health staff who are vital to COVID-19 vaccine response, EMTs/Paramedics, and other healthcare workers who fall into Phase 1a vaccinated as quickly as possible. They have faithfully cared for our community while risking their own health to keep us all healthy and safe," said Dr. Meg Sullivan, Mecklenburg County Public Health Medical Director, who also received the vaccine. "However, this is only the first step. The vaccination campaign will be lengthy, and we all must maintain public health measures including wearing masks, practicing social distancing and avoiding gatherings with individuals outside of our immediate household." 

MCPH will take the initial lead on providing vaccine to individuals in Phase 1a (as recommended by current guidelines). Individuals in Phase 1a include:

  • Emergency medical technicians (EMTs) and paramedics
  • Public Health staff included in Phase 1a (vital to COVID-19 vaccine response)
  • Long-term care facility staff and residents at facilities not enrolled in the Federal Pharmacy Partnership for Long-Term Care
  • Other high-risk community providers and support staff who meet the criteria for Phase 1a, such as providers conducting COVID-19 testing or providing care for known/suspected COVID-19.
  • Home health workers providing care for COVID-19 patients Medical examiners and morticians at high risk for exposure


A more detailed framework outlining Phase 1a distribution is available here. As we expand to vaccinating broader groups in future phases, we will share details about where vaccine is located and let communities know how and where to get it. 

We'll know more about who will be vaccinated in later phases from guidance made by the CDC's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices. You can view the interim plan on our coronavirus vaccine webpage, We will share the allocation and prioritization guides for future vaccine phases in the coming weeks. 

The vaccine will be distributed by the State to counties in amounts aimed to be used within 10 days. The specially designed shipping containers can be recharged with dry ice to store vaccine for up to 30 days safely. MCPH also has an ultracold freezer, which arrived Monday, for storing the Pfizer vaccine. At this time, MCPH has received the Pfizer vaccine and will prepare to receive the Moderna vaccine as well, if made available.


About the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine

On Dec. 11 the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) issued Emergency Use Authorization for the Pfizer BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine in individuals 16 years of age and older.


  • Vaccine Safety - COVID-19 vaccines were tested in large clinical trials to make sure they meet safety standards. Many people were recruited to participate in these trials to see how the vaccines offers protection to people of different ages, races, and ethnicities, as well as those with different medical conditions. The COVID-19 vaccine does not contain a live virus and cannot give individuals the coronavirus.


  • Who Should Get the Vaccine - The Pfizer BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is authorized for use in individuals 16 and older. The FDA and CDC are that advising women who are pregnant or breastfeeding, individuals who have experienced allergic reactions to other vaccines and those who have compromised immune systems should discuss the benefits and risks of taking the vaccine with their medical provider before receiving it.


  • Vaccine Side Effects - The COVID-19 vaccine does not contain a live virus and cannot give individuals the coronavirus. The potential side effects from the vaccine are similar to those experienced by people who receive the flu shot: soreness at the injection site, fever, headaches, and body aches that usually go away within 24 hours. Unless symptoms worsen or linger, there is no need to seek medical care. Pfizer reported no serious side effects from the vaccine, and there were no deaths directly linked to the vaccine itself. The FDA and CDC will continue to monitor the COVID-19 vaccine for safety and effectiveness and any long-term or rare side effects.


  • Vaccine Dosage - The Pfizer vaccine does require two doses spaced about three weeks a part to be effective. The same brand of vaccine must be administered for both doses.


  • Vaccine Cost – The COVID-19 vaccine will be available to everyone at no cost to the person receiving the vaccine, no matter whether you have health insurance.


More information about the COVID-19 vaccine is available at or by calling the Public Health COVID-19 hotline at 980-314-9400.