Special to Iredell Free News
RALEIGH — Gov. Roy Cooper and N.C. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Mandy K. Cohen announced Thursday that people in Group 4 who have a medical condition that puts them at higher risk of serious illness and people who live in certain congregate settings will be eligible for vaccination beginning March 17 . The rest of Group 4, which includes other essential workers will become eligible April 7.
“This move to Group 4 is good news,” Cooper said. “I know there are many efforts across the state getting vaccines to people as quickly and fairly as possible, and I want our providers to know that their work is making all the difference.”
NCDHHS is in constant contact with providers across the state and surveys both their vaccine capacity and supply. The state was able to update its timeline on Thursday based on provider feedback and expected supply. As with previous eligibility changes, some vaccine providers may not be ready to open to Group 4 on March 17 if they are still experiencing high demand for vaccines in Groups 1-3.
“We are very fortunate to now have three tested, safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines that keep people out of the hospital and prevent death from this virus,” Cohen explained. “With improving supplies, North Carolina can get more people vaccinated sooner and meet our goals to provide equitable access to vaccinations in every community in the state.”
More than 1.1 million North Carolinians have been fully vaccinated as the state works with local health departments and providers to distribute this vaccine quickly and equitably. While supply is still limited, the increased federal allocation of doses is helping providers administer vaccines to more people.
North Carolina has continued to emphasize equity in the vaccine distribution process. In the last four weeks, more than 20 percent of the state’s first doses have been administered to Black North Carolinians. On Sunday, Bloomberg News recognized North Carolina as the leader in the nation for reporting demographic data on who has been vaccinated down to the county level.
On Wednesday, Cooper attended the opening of a federally supported community vaccination center opened in Greensboro, This site — one of just 18 sites nationally — will help the state continue its effort to reach more marginalized and underserved communities. The federal government will provide the center’s vaccine supply, which is in addition to North Carolina’s weekly allotment from the Centers for Disease Control. The site will operate seven days a week with the capacity to provide up to 3,000 vaccinations per day, with options for drive-thru service in the parking lot and walk-in service.
Detailed information about each vaccine group is online at YourSpotYourShot.nc.gov (English) or vacunate.nc.gov (Spanish). North Carolinians can find vaccine providers in their community through the NCDHHS online tool, Find a Vaccine Location. The COVID-19 vaccine help center is available to answer vaccine questions at 888-675-4567.