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First Patients Vaccinated at Duke Health for COVID-19


Stephanie Lopez
Stephanie Lopez
919-724-5934 Email

DURHAM, N.C. -- Today marked the beginning of the vaccination rollout for hundreds of thousands of Duke Health patients and community members who will qualify for the next phase of COVID-19 vaccination directed by the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services. 

Duke Health vaccinated its first person outside of the state’s 1a category, ushering in a new phase of the rollout that will extend over the coming weeks and months.  Vaccinations are by appointment only and in limited supply. Over time, all will have access to the vaccine.
Roy Cuttino, 75, became Duke’s first to receive the vaccine under the state’s 1b guidelines, which includes adults 75 years or older and frontline essential workers. The retired IBM employee received his first dose by appointment at 7 a.m. today. 
“I weighed pieces of information a while back,” Cuttino said, “but with COVID being as bad as it is, I knew the opinion of deciding to take the vaccine, as opposed to not taking it, was very important.”
Duke Health is contacting patients and working with community groups to invite people 75 and older to make appointments as supplies of the vaccine are received from NC DHHS. Cuttino tells us he received word that he was eligible to receive the shot yesterday.
“My reaction was, I’m ready,” Cuttino said, “because not only did I think getting the vaccine is important to stay safe, but having it here at Duke, an institution like Duke, you know, I feel much more comfortable.”
84-year-old Joseph Falco and his wife 79-year-old Barbara Falco were also among the first to be vaccinated at Duke under the expanded rollout.
The Falcos’s daughter, Dina White, watched as the couple received their first doses. She cheered them on for moral support, and rushed to hug her mother, with tears in her eyes, right after the nurse affixed a bandage over the injection site.
“This moment was really emotional for me and for my parents I think, but more so for me as a daughter, trying to protect them every day,” White said. “It’s been a really rough year for our family, and I think for everybody’s family, and I’m thankful that today they were able to take this first step. It’s one more way to stay safe.”
The 1b vaccinations took place on the Duke University campus, where Duke Health plans to vaccinate at least 85 people today who qualify under the new guidelines, with vaccination volumes increasing as supplies allow. 

“This is an exciting day for Duke Health, and we're proud to be among the first to administer vaccines to patients and community members over the age of 75,” said Thomas Owens, M.D., president of Duke University Hospital and senior vice president of Duke University Health System.

“Safe and effective vaccines are essential in our fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, since they provide another way to stay safe and prevent the spread of infection. We are following the state's plan for distribution, and we are committed to providing equitable access to vaccination for our patients and the community. 

“Since supply is limited and it will take some time to provide vaccinations for everyone who wants them, we urge patients and community members to please be patient, but we are grateful to see the excitement from these first individuals who have received their vaccination.”
The health system will continue to vaccinate its employees who qualify under the state’s 1a guidelines at Duke University Hospital, Duke Regional Hospital and Duke Raleigh Hospital.

People ages 75 or older are eligible to receive the vaccine. For more information visit this site:

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