November 2, 2020

Dr. Leah McCall Devlin

Dr. Leah McCall Devlin

Leah Devlin, DDS, professor of practice in health policy and management at the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health, recently co-chaired an advisory committee for a COVID-19 vaccination plan developed by the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS). This plan was submitted to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in October with the goal of mapping out an immunization strategy for everyone in N.C who is eligible for and wants a COVID-19 vaccine.

“Leaders from across sectors came together under tight timelines to collaboratively develop a vaccine plan that leads with equity and prioritizes building trust,” said NCDHHS Secretary Mandy K. Cohen, MD. “We will continue to update this plan as we learn more from the science and data on vaccines and in response to the needs of North Carolinians.”

Multiple vaccines for COVID-19 are currently in development. For a vaccine to be authorized, studies must show it is safe and can prevent someone from catching COVID-19. Once the Food and Drug Administration authorizes a vaccine, it will take time for manufacturers to ramp up production. This means states will initially receive limited vaccine supplies and will need to prioritize which populations receive the vaccine first.

North Carolina’s prioritization strategy was developed based on the National Academy of Medicine framework and in consultation with an external COVID-19 Vaccine Advisory Committee convened by the North Carolina Institute of Medicine. Devlin, who is former health director for Wake County and the State of North Carolina, co-chaired the committee with Goldie Byrd, PhD, director of the Maya Angelou Center for Health Equity at Wake Forest University, and Art Apolinario, MD, MPH, a family medicine physician at Clinton Medical Clinic and Board member of the North Carolina Medical Society.

North Carolina’s vaccine plan reflects five principles that guide the planning for and distribution of one or more COVID-19 vaccines in the state. These principles include:

– Equitable access to vaccines for all North Carolinians.
– Vaccine planning and distribution that is inclusive; actively engages state and local government, public and private partners; and draws upon the experience and expertise of leaders from historically marginalized populations,
– Transparent, accurate and frequent public communication, which is essential to building trust.
– Data that is used to promote equity, track progress and guide decision-making.
– Implementation driven by appropriate stewardship of resources and continuous evaluation and improvement.

The COVID-19 vaccination plan will continue to be revised based on further information and guidance from the CDC and other federal agencies, increasing data on safety and efficacy from vaccine trials, ongoing input from state and local partners and the Vaccine Advisory Committee, and refinements needed as the state progresses through the planning and operational stages.

Read the full press release from NCDHHS.

Read the COVID-19 Vaccination Plan from NCDHHS.

Contact the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health communications team at

Visit our communications and marketing team page.
Contact with any media inquiries or general questions.

Communications and Marketing Office
125 Rosenau Hall
CB #7400
135 Dauer Drive
Chapel Hill, NC 27599-7400