North Carolina could receive its first doses of Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine in the coming days. But state officials say it could be many months before it becomes accessible to the general public.

Nearly 86,000 doses of the vaccine have been set aside for North Carolina, and distribution could start as soon as next week. 

State Health Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen said at a press conference Thursday that those first doses will go to health care workers in about half the state's hospitals. After that, the plan gets murky. 

"We don't really know yet what the time sequence is going to be in terms of us having a vaccine that is more widely available for the general public," said Cohen. "It is not going to be in the early part of 2021. Let me just say that I think it's going to be closer to the springtime."

Cohen said they expect to continue receiving new allocations from the federal government each week, but she's not sure how many doses will be in each shipment. But, she said state officials have been assured that all who are vaccinated in the first week will be able to receive a second and final dose in the prescribed 21-day time frame.

A separate vaccine by Moderna is also expected to be approved in the coming weeks. Cohen said inoculations in long-term care facilities will begin once that vaccine is authorized. 

For the most up-to-date information on coronavirus in North Carolina, visit our Live Updates blog here. WFDD wants to hear your stories — connect with us and let us know what you're experiencing.

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