Central Carolina Hospital in Sanford announced today it has received its first shipment of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine and has begun inoculating its staff.

The hospital shared the news via a Facebook post today with photos of the first package of vaccines and individual boxes stored in a refrigeration unit.

The Moderna vaccine — approved by the FDA on Dec. 18, a week after emergency approval of Pfizer’s vaccine was granted — is said to be 94.1 percent effective at preventing symptomatic COVID-19. Like the Pfizer vaccine, it requires two doses, (Pfizer’s is taken three weeks apart, while Moderna’s is four weeks). According to the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, both vaccines are “very effective” in preventing someone from getting COVID-19 and have no serious safety concerns noted in the clinical trials.

The big difference in the vaccines is the way they’re stored.. The Moderna vaccine does not need to be stored as cold as the Pfizer vaccine, so more providers will be able to easily use it. The Moderna vaccine is authorized for adults aged 18 and older. The Pfizer vaccine is authorized for people aged 16 and older. The temporary reactions are similar for both vaccines. Temporary reactions may include a sore arm, headache and feeling tired and achy for a day or two after receiving the vaccine.

Central Carolina Hospital did not release information on when the vaccine will be available to the first wave of patients (the hospital has not responded to emails this week about the vaccine and has not issued a press release).

The news is promising, nonetheless. COVID-19 continues to spread at an alarming rate in Lee County with 156 new cases announced between last Thursday through Monday. Since march, 3,183 people have tested positive for the virus and 38 people have died from COVID-19 complications.

The Rant will report news of the vaccine’s availability at CCH and at local pharmacies when that news is made public.