UNC hosted its first of two virtual COVID-19 vaccine town halls this week on March 9 for students, faculty and staff. During the panel, Dr. David Weber, UNC School of Medicine professor and a leader of the UNC vaccine efforts, and Audrey Pettifor, UNC epidemiology professor, presented information and answered questions about the COVID-19 vaccines.
Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz urged attendees to get the vaccine as soon as they are able.
“We don’t know what the future holds, yet this vaccine is our best chance to have as close to a normal summer and fall as possible,” he said.
Weber began his presentation by highlighting information and statistics about vaccine distribution. UNC Health has provided about 12.5% of all the vaccines in North Carolina, Weber said. He explained the differences between available vaccines, and he predicted that additional vaccines will be released by this summer, increasing the vaccine supply.
In Pettifor’s presentation, she introduced “Prevent COVID U,” a new trial UNC will launch across the United States. This study will investigate if the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine reduces transmission of the virus to other people. Researchers will recruit about 575 UNC students ages 18 to 26 who have not had COVID-19 before, plan to be around the Chapel Hill area this summer and will be part of the Carolina Together Testing Program.
Crystal Wiley Cené, associate professor of medicine, moderated the Q&A session. Viewers had the opportunity to submit questions prior to and during the town hall.
The following questions and responses have been edited for clarity.