Special to Iredell Free News
RALEIGH — Gov. Roy Cooper and N.C. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mandy K. Cohen have outlined a timeline for Group 3 frontline workers to become eligible to receive the Covid-19 vaccine, beginning with anyone working in child care or in pre-kindergarten – 12 schools on February 24.
“I am grateful to all of our educators and school personnel for going above and beyond in this pandemic to care for children and help them continue to learn,” Cooper said. “Starting with a smaller number of Group 3 frontline essential workers helps providers streamline vaccine distribution effectively and efficiently.”
Because vaccine supply continues to be limited and the Group 3 population of frontline essential workers is so large, state officials decided to move to the next group gradually. Those working in child care and schools, such as teachers, bus and van drivers, custodial and maintenance staff, and food service workers, will be eligible first. This includes staff in child care centers and homes, Head Start Programs, preschool and pre-kindergarten programs, traditional public schools, charter schools and private schools.
States must vaccinate people in groups due to limited supply. North Carolina is currently vaccinating people in Groups 1 and 2, which include health care workers, long-term care staff and residents and people 65 and older. In the coming weeks, providers will continue to vaccinate these groups. More than 40 percent of North Carolina’s residents 65 and older have been vaccinated.
Under the timeline outlined this week, the state plans to move to additional frontline workers on March 10.
“Vaccine supply limitations continue to impact how fast we can get all North Carolinians vaccinated,” said Secretary Cohen. “Keep doing the 3Ws. Wear a mask, wait 6 feet apart, and wash your hands often. And be sure to visit YourSpotYourShot.nc.gov for accurate information.”
NCDHHS is working with partners to develop operational guidance to support child care and school staff in accessing vaccines. However, current prevention measures will not change. Schools can and should be providing in-person instruction. Under robust safety measures, all students can be in classrooms, with middle and high school students also following six-feet social distancing protocols.
As of Wednesday, North Carolina has administered more than 1 million first doses of vaccine and more than 1.5 million total doses.
North Carolina is expected to received more doses of vaccine over the coming weeks heading into March. This increase and certainty of advance knowledge into the supply chain several weeks out has allowed the state to plan to open vaccinations to group 3. As state officials receive more supply information, additional operational guidance will continue to be provided.