At Duke Health, our top priority is safety and protecting the health and well-being of our patients, their loved ones and our team members. We are closely coordinating with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) and local health departments to develop safe, efficient and equitable plans for COVID-19 vaccine distribution.
This webpage is available as a resource for you to make an informed decision for receiving vaccination. Currently, there are no plans to require COVID-19 vaccination for any Duke University, Duke University Health System or PDC employees. Duke University, Duke University Health System and PDC employees will receive the COVID-19 vaccine at no cost.
Key Priorities of Duke Health Vaccination Plans
Team Member Vaccine Distribution
We are following NC DHHS guidelines for the distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine to our team members, patients and community. These guidelines require the prioritization of team members with the longest exposure to COVID-19 patients to receive the vaccine first. Recently, the state updated its distribution plan to recategorize the groups that are currently eligible for vaccination. Group 1 is now active, and it includes all healthcare workers who consistently report to work in a clinical care setting. These healthcare workers are now eligible for vaccination. Duke University and Duke Health team members who meet this criterion will be notified of their eligibility via an email from Employee Health so they may schedule their appointment for vaccination. We are in the process of uploading all eligible team members to the state's COVID-19 Vaccination Management System (CVMS), and we appreciate your patience as we work through this process.
All eligible team members will receive an email to register with CVMS and Duke’s Employee Occupational Health and Wellness. After registration, team members will need to schedule an appointment for vaccination. Unfortunately, we will not be able to administer your vaccination until you register through CVMS. If you choose to defer your vaccination, you should still register in CVMS, and then defer your vaccination in our Duke Health system (VaxTrax). If you choose to defer, you will not lose your eligibility and can obtain your vaccination when you are ready.
It is important to remember what we have learned from our Employee Health contact tracing team about transmission risk. Working with infected patients does not pose the highest risk for team members as long as they follow the proper precautions (masking, appropriate PPE use, hand hygiene, etc.). The greatest risk of COVID-19 exposure for our team members occurs when they are in the community and while eating or drinking in the workplace.
Currently, there are no plans to require COVID-19 vaccination for any Duke University, Duke University Health System or PDC employees. Duke University, Duke University Health System and PDC employees will receive the COVID-19 vaccine at no cost.
COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Overview
One more way to stay safe
A tested, safe and effective vaccine will be available to all who want it, but supplies will be limited at first.
Learn more about the COVID-19 Vaccine
Watch one of our recent Duke Health Leadership Town Halls to learn more about our COVID-19 vaccination plans. Panelists included Kuldip Patel, PharmD, who discussed our pharmacy preparations; Rhonda Brandon, who addressed our policies regarding team member vaccination; Carol Epling, MD, who reviewed team member distribution; and Cameron Wolfe, MD, who discussed the latest COVID-19 vaccine developments.
Frequently Asked Questions
Vaccines are critical to the prevention and control of infectious disease outbreaks. Vaccines help prevent complications every year from diseases like diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, measles and influenza. Vaccines work by training and preparing the body’s natural defense mechanism, the immune system, to recognize and fight off the viruses and bacteria they target. If the body is exposed to those disease-causing germs later, the body is immediately ready to destroy them, preventing illness.
The FDA is responsible for making sure that, just like any other medications, any FDA-authorized or approved COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective. Developers are required to go through a rigorous, multi-stage process including large (phase three) trials that involve tens of thousands of people participating. After the clinical trials show that the vaccine is safe and effective, a series of independent reviews and evidence is required to demonstrate efficacy and safety.
An Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) is issued by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) during a public health emergency to allow the use of new medical products, such as a vaccine, more quickly. An EUA requires the submission of data that demonstrates a vaccine’s safety and that it can prevent disease.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices will review the data and recommend who should be vaccinated based on clinical trial results. For example, it may recommend that a vaccine only be used for a certain age group based on the results of the clinical trials.
These are unprecedented times. Scientists, researchers and officials have come together to move vaccine candidates through the process for preclinical and clinical assessment, including animal and human trials, under the federal government operation known as Operation Warp Speed (OWS). This has enabled researchers to advance into phase three clinical trials (testing the vaccine on large groups of people to evaluate safety and effectiveness) in six months instead of the typical two years. More information about OWS can be found here.
The FDA is responsible for making sure that, just like any other medications, any FDA-authorized or approved COVID-19 vaccines are safe and they work.
The FDA applies the same stringent review process to all vaccines regardless of manufacturer. FDA approval or authorization of a vaccine means that the agency has determined, based on substantial evidence and a stringent review process, the vaccine is safe and effective for its intended use. Pfizer’s and Moderna’s vaccines – the first two vaccines that are likely to receive EUA - have both been shown to be at least 94 percent effective and have the same mechanism of action.
Once a vaccine is authorized, states will receive an allocation of vaccines from the federal government. In North Carolina, the vaccine will then be distributed in a manner that is fair, ethical, equitable and timely. It has been reported that Operation Warp Speed is aiming to deliver millions of doses of a safe, effective vaccine by January 2021. This timeframe depends on several factors, including the FDA’s authorization. It is expected that initially, there will be a limited supply of vaccines.
We anticipate starting administration of the vaccination on December 15 to Duke Health team members that have the highest risk for exposure to COVID-19.
Many of the vaccines, including the Pfizer and Moderna vaccine, require two doses given a set number of days apart. It is important to know when a person received the first dose of the vaccine and which vaccine they received to ensure they receive the second dose of the same vaccine at the right time. This information is a protected health information. North Carolina will be using a secure data system to manage vaccines called the COVID-19 Vaccine Management System (CVMS). When a person receives their first dose, they will be given information on when to come back for a second dose and asked to make a second appointment. They will also be given a card with information about which vaccine they received and the date of the first dose.
To help determine who should get the vaccine first, the North Carolina Institute of Medicine convened an independent COVID Vaccine Advisory Committee. The North Carolina prioritization plan is based on their guidance along with guidance from the National Academy of Medicine on equitable distribution of vaccine and the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practice. The prioritization plan is based on risk of exposure to and severe illness with COVID-19. States will receive very limited vaccine supplies at first. Therefore, the initial supply of vaccines will go to hospitals to vaccinate health care workers at high risk of exposure to COVID-19, including those who are caring for or cleaning areas used by patients with COVID-19. As more vaccines become available, they will be distributed to hospitals and to local health departments to focus on vaccinating high-risk healthcare workers.
By early 2021, state officials hope that health departments and community health centers will start vaccinating other adults who are at high risk for complications. These individuals are designated in this category by having two or more chronic conditions identified by the CDC to increase the risk for severe illness with COVID-19, and who are at higher risk for exposure to the virus. Eventually as more vaccines become available, vaccinations will be offered in a variety of settings, including in clinics and pharmacies as well as at vaccination events in prioritized settings and in the community.
Health care providers who are not affiliated with a hospital or health system and who meet the requirements for phase 1a are being directed by the state to contact their local health department to have their name submitted to the state’s COVID-19 Vaccination Management System to become eligible for vaccination. You can find more detailed information about qualifying for phase 1a through this fact sheet from NC DHHS.
Durham County residents can call the Durham County Department of Public Health COVID vaccination hotline at 919-635-8150 Monday - Friday, 8:30 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. or email their vaccine questions inbox at DCoCOVIDvaccines@dconc.gov. Wake County residents can email Wake County Public Health at email@example.com with the Subject Line: [Your Organization Name] COVID Vaccination Request.
The FDA guidance expects that an authorized or approved COVID-19 vaccine would prevent disease or decrease its severity in at least 50 percent of people who are vaccinated. In some cases, COVID-19 vaccines may protect against severe infection, but not necessarily prevent mild or asymptomatic infection. If this is the case, an infected person could still spread the virus. This is why it is expected that even after a vaccine becomes available, people will need to continue wearing masks, practicing good hand hygiene and maintaining physical distancing for some time.
There is a potential for injection site reactions (redness, swelling and pain) as well as fever, fatigue, headache, chills, vomiting, diarrhea, muscle pain and/or joint pain. These are common adverse reactions seen with other vaccines. There may be other reactions that are not currently known. If you experience common side effects from the vaccine it is still necessary to receive the second dose for the vaccine to be effective.
The COVID-19 vaccine will be available to everyone for free, no matter whether you have health insurance or not. The federal government will be purchasing the vaccines.
In early clinical trials for various COVID-19 vaccines, only non-pregnant adults at least 16 years of age participated. However, clinical trials continue to expand those recruited to include children. The groups recommended to receive safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines could change in the future. As of now, the vaccine is not yet approved for children. More information will be available from the vaccine manufacturers.
COVID-19 vaccines approved for use under Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) have not been studied in pregnancy. Duke Health will be offering pregnant people the option to get vaccinated. We encourage all pregnant people to discuss any questions and concerns with their care provider.
Currently, there is not enough data available to say if or for how long after infection someone is protected from getting COVID-19 again. Early findings suggest natural immunity from COVID-19 may not last very long, but more studies are needed.
The COVID-19 vaccine does not take the place of the pneumonia vaccine or the flu vaccine. It is a good idea to be up to date on pneumonia and flu vaccines in addition to COVID-19. Please consult with your healthcare provider regarding which vaccines are recommended for you.
There are several resources, including the CDC’s Frequently Asked Questions about COVID-19 Vaccination and information from the state of North Carolina found here.
When the vaccine becomes available, we will offer it in accordance with recommendations from the national Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, and guidance from state and local partners as well as our own ethics council. Eventually, all team members and students who are interested in receiving the vaccine will have an opportunity to be vaccinated. Initially, because of limited supply the vaccine will be given in phases based on priority groups determined by risk. Our staff and other essential workers will be offered the vaccine before we offer vaccination to our patients and communities.
The exact quantity and timing for shipments is continuously evolving. Vaccine quantities will be determined by the state. Supply will be distributed throughout North Carolina following guidelines determined by the state to ensure equity.
We anticipate that Pfizer’s vaccine will be the first to be issued under EUA from the FDA, and that we will receive the vaccine shortly thereafter. At that time, we will begin scheduling vaccinations for our staff.
No. At this time, COVID-19 vaccination is not a requirement for employment. It will be your choice of whether to take the vaccine at this time, but we will provide the appropriate information and access for you. Your decision to participate will not have an impact on your work assignment.
Most of the COVID-19 vaccines currently in phase 3 clinical trials in the U.S. require two consecutive doses, three or four weeks apart, for the vaccine series. Other COVID-19 vaccines currently in development may use one dose. Pfizer’s vaccine, which we plan to receive, requires two doses of the vaccine series 21 days apart.
You will receive notification from Employee Health when you are able to receive the vaccine. Upon scheduling, you will have the opportunity to review and complete the necessary consent as well as connect with a resource to answer any questions you might have. We are asking work units to coordinate scheduling to allow for appropriate staffing should a team member need to call out after experiencing side effects.
The appointment for vaccination will take approximately 30 minutes, including a 15-minute observation period after receiving the vaccine.
Please bring your mobile phone; your employee ID; a government ID.
Yes. Vaccines may boost your immune system so it is ready to fight the virus if you are exposed, but it is not yet fully understood whether vaccinated people might still be able to transmit the virus. Initially, we will not have enough vaccines to vaccinate everyone who wants the vaccine, and the virus will still be transmitted. Therefore, wearing a mask and following other precautions such as practicing social distancing and frequently washing your hands will help reduce your chance of being exposed to and spreading the virus.
Available Resources for Team Members and Patients
- COVID-19 Vaccine FAQs for Duke Health Team Members (PDF) (html)
- Vaccination Talking Points for Patients and Community
- After Your Vaccine: When to Contact the COVID-19 Hotline
- Duke COVID-19 Vaccination Work Group Update 11.12.20
- Duke COVID-19 Vaccination Work Group Update 11.20.20
- Duke COVID-19 Vaccination Work Group Update 12.4.20
- North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services Vaccination Plan
- U.S. Food and Drug Administration COVID-19 Vaccine Webpage
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention COVID-19 Vaccine Webpage