North Carolina Tops in Nation for Vaccination People 65 & Older

Kaiser Family Foundation ranks North Carolina as first in the nation for vaccinating the largest share of its 65 and older population at 49%. This rate does not include those in long-term care facilities.

“Our goal is to administer vaccine quickly and equitably and I’m proud of the work our providers are doing to protect North Carolina’s most vulnerable population,” said Governor Roy Cooper.

Older adults are at high risk of severe illness and death from COVID-19. They make up the majority (83%) of deaths from COVID-19 in the state. Because of limited supply, states have to vaccinate people in phases. North Carolina began vaccinating adults 65 and older in mid-January.

“Getting as many people as possible vaccinated quickly and equitably will also help stop the spread of COVID-19 variants—and get us back to the people and places we love,” said North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Mandy K. Cohen, M.D.

As of today, North Carolina has administered more than 1.4 million first doses of vaccine and more than 2.3 million total doses. Another tested, safe and effective vaccine may soon increase supply and get more people vaccinated quickly. A one-shot vaccine from Johnson & Johnson is currently being reviewed by the Food and Drug Administration and could soon be authorized for use. Like the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, it will help prevent COVID-19 and is extremely effective in preventing hospitalization and death with no serious safety concerns.

The state has also been recognized for the quality of its data. Bloomberg News scored North Carolina as best in the nation on vaccine race and ethnicity data quality, reporting the data for nearly 100% of people vaccinated in the state.

North Carolina has embedded equity in all aspects of vaccine operations, including how vaccine is allocated in the state. Vaccines are distributed to all 100 counties, with increases to counties with higher numbers of historically marginalized populations that are 65 and older. The state also sets aside a portion of its allocation to support events that increase access in underserved communities and engage historically marginalized populations.

These strategies are having an impact. For the past three weeks, more than 20% of first doses administered in the state have gone to North Carolina’s Black/African American population. The Black/African Americans population is 22.2% of the state’s total population.

Although there has been some progress, more work is needed to reach the state’s Hispanic/Latinx population. For the week ending Feb. 21, 3.7% of first doses administered in the state went to our Hispanic/LatinX population, up from 1.8% for the week ending Jan. 17. The Hispanic/Latinx population is 9.8% of the state’s total population.

Visit YourSpotYourShot.nc.gov for accurate information about the COVID-19 vaccines. To slow the spread of COVID-19 and save lives, continue to practice the 3 Ws – wear a mask, wait six feet apart and wash your hands.

Kaiser Family Foundation: Vaccinating Older Adults in the US Against COVID-19: A Work in Progress