Message on COVID-19 Vaccines and the Duke Community

Dear Duke Health and Duke University colleagues, students and staff:

This week, we are beginning to see promising preliminary data from the ongoing COVID-19 vaccine trials. This is much anticipated news, and we will be carefully and closely following all developments moving forward. At Duke, we are fortunate to have some of the world’s leading experts in vaccine science, and to have the opportunity to participate in vaccine trials. We have engaged these scientists and investigators while developing our vaccine distribution plan, so that we are ready when a vaccine is approved by the FDA. We are coordinating closely with the NC Department of Health and Human Services and with local health departments to develop our plan.

While we are still some time away from FDA approval, planning at Duke is already underway for how we will distribute the vaccine:

  • Our Duke experts will review all available safety and efficacy data for any approved vaccine to ensure the science supports its broad use.
  • Based on CDC guidelines, vaccines will be offered in a phased approach that prioritizes healthcare workers who are most likely to be exposed to the COVID-19 virus while providing care to our patients, as well as long-term care workers and caregivers.
  • We are coordinating with the NC DHHS to help ensure that all North Carolinians have equitable access to vaccines, and that vaccine planning and distribution is inclusive.

We are encouraged by the progress that researchers are making. However, it’s also important to know that vaccine development and distribution will take many months. Please stay vigilant and continue to protect yourself, your family and your Duke community. We recognize how tiring it can feel to maintain these precautions, but these prevention methods are effective, and we can save many lives by masking, washing our hands and avoiding crowds and unnecessary travel.

We hope this early information helps you understand how Duke is preparing for the distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine once it is available. If you have questions, you can contact us at

Thank you for all you are doing to keep yourself, your family and our community safe.


Kyle Cavanaugh
Vice President, Administration

Carol Epling, MD, MSPH
Director, Employee Occupational Health and Wellness

Gail Shulby, RN, MA, CPPS
Chief of Staff to the Executive Vice President, Duke Health

Cameron R. Wolfe, MBBS (Hons), MPH, FIDSA
Associate Professor of Medicine, Infectious Diseases, Duke Health

Co-Leaders of the Duke COVID Vaccination Work Group