According to a report from the Kaiser Family Foundation, the humble state of North Carolina has come in first in the nation for vaccinating the largest share of its 65 and older population against the coronavirus. 

Almost half – 49 percent, to be exact – of the state’s residents over 65 years of age have been vaccinated. 

The reason vaccinations for people in that age group are so important is that older adults are at a high risk of severe illness and death from COVID-19.  In fact, 83 percent of the COVID-19 related deaths in the state have been people 65 or older.

 In North Carolina, elderly people and health workers have been made top priorities, whereas other states have used different criteria for who gets vaccinated first.  For instance, North Carolina is just now getting around to vaccinating teachers, which some states made a priority earlier in the year.

According to state health officials, more than 1.4 million first doses of vaccine – and more than 2.3 million total doses – have been administered in North Carolina.

Another vaccine was close to approval on Friday, Feb. 26.  The one-shot vaccine from Johnson & Johnson is currently in the final stage of review by the Food and Drug Administration and it could be authorized for use very soon.  That welcome addition to the lineup will only speed up the process getting everyone vaccinated.

North Carolina has also been recognized this week for the quality of some of its data.  Bloomberg News ranked the state number one in the nation when it comes to race and ethnicity vaccine data quality.  State and county officials have been careful to  vaccinate a good number of minorities. For the past three weeks, more than 20 percent of first doses administered in North Carolina state have gone to African-Americans.  That group makes up just over 22 percent of the state’s total population.

Like other states, North Carolina has been seeing a very good response to the vaccinations.  Namely, the number of coronavirus cases and hospitalizations has been dropping at a very pleasing rate.